Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, has underscored the strategic importance of the United Kingdom (UK) city of Birmingham to the Government’s economic goals for investments and international trade.
Minister Hylton was addressing a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the city on Wednesday (August 1) to launch ‘Jamaica in the Square,’ a five-day free open-air festival being held from August 2 to 6 outside the landmark Council House located in Birmingham’s Victoria Square.
The forum also gave Minister Hylton the opportunity to provide an update on the country’s efforts to position itself as a global trade and logistics hub and the opportunities for the Birmingham business community.
The UK city is home to the highest concentration of the Jamaican Diaspora in the world and is where Jamaica’s pre-Olympic camp was located. The Minister thanked the City Council and the people for their hospitality and pivotal support to the team, which he said, is second to none.
The Minister told the gathering that ‘Jamaica in the Square’ will provide a special opportunity to not only connect and reconnect with the Diaspora, but also to demonstrate to the wider UK community that Jamaica is a place of amazing business possibilities.
He outlined the range of Jamaican-made products that will be on display at the event and the prospects for investments in major sectors of the economy such as Information Communication Technology (ICT), tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and the spin-offs afforded the Government to position the country as a hub for global trade and logistics in the Americas.
Citing Cabinet’s recent approval of the drafting of trade liberalisation legislation to catalyze the country’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe, the Minister said: “This will provide added incentives for investors seeking to set up operations in Jamaica for export to the European market and North and South America.”
The Minister said ‘Jamaica in the Square’ is intended to become a bi-annual business event to the mutual interest of Jamaica-UK trade and business.
Also participating in the press launch, which provided the opportunity to meet with the Jamaican community in Birmingham, were High Commissioner to the UK, Aloun Ndombet Assamba; Member of Parliament for the Perry Barr constituency, Khalid Mahmood; several members of the Jamaican-British business community; and representatives of JAMPRO, the trade and investment promotions agency of the Government of Jamaica.
The meeting was followed by a tour of several business establishments owned and operated by Jamaicans in Birmingham. These included Cleon Foods, manufacturers of the award-winning Island Delight patties, the largest producer of Jamaican style patties in the UK.
The company’s Managing Director, Wade Lyn, who conducted a tour of his establishment, is also the recipient of a Royal Commission to distribute patties at Buckingham Palace.
Other places toured were the MD Sunrise Bakery, operated by Errol Drummond and the Jamaica-UK freight-forwarding establishment operated by philanthropist Beverly Johnson.
By Claire Forrester