The United States has committed to investing billions in Jamaica following a meeting between Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness and US Vice President, Jamaican-American Kamala Harris.
Holness traveled to Washington, DC on March 29 to meet with Harris to discuss bilateral issues between the two countries.
According to the Prime Minister, the areas of cooperation discussed with Harris included, violence prevention through intelligence and information sharing and investment in violence reduction program targeting at risk youth, human capacity development, particularly in relation to cyber security and digital technology, energy and infrastructure.
In her remarks to reporters, Vice President Harris said the visit from Prime Minister Holness was an important one, given that the island is just months away from celebrating its 60th anniversary of independence.
Harris also made mention of her Jamaican heritage.
“As a point of personal privilege, I grew up going to Jamaica. My family — half of my family is from St. Ann Parish in Jamaica. And I know I’ve shared that history with millions of Americans who have their roots through the generations in Jamaica,” she said.
Kamala Harris’s father, Donald Harris was born in Jamaica and emigrated during the 1960s. A well-known Professor, Donald Harris was last year honored by the Jamaican government for with the Order of Merit.
“In addition to, of course, those people-to-people ties between the United States and Jamaica, as I said, in context of being neighbors in the Western Hemisphere, we have a longstanding strategic relationship and a diplomatic relationship and a deep historic partnership.
The United States and Jamaica continue to be close friends with many, many issues in common. And this partnership is an important one and an enduring one for the United States,” she added.
Vice President Harris announced that the United States will be investing $20 million to “assist in the strengthening and the expansion of Jamaica’s commerce in a way that we fully intend will have an impact in strengthening the economy of Jamaica and drive economic growth.”
An additional $10 million will be provided to boost human capital and reduce the level of crime among at-risk youth.
The $30 billion commitment is equivalent to over $4 billion JMD.
After the meeting, Prime Minister Holness thanked the Vice President for prioritizing the meeting with Jamaica.
“VP Harris expressed agreement for the establishment of a working group between Jamaica and the US to discuss issues unique to Jamaica and to continue dialogue. I thank the VP for prioritising this meeting with Jamaica and I welcome her announcements to provide greater support through investments,” Holness tweeted.
Holness was the first Jamaican leader to visit the White House since a 1995 visit by former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.