Jamaica looking South

Gillian Travia Giwa

Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon. A.J. Nicholson led a delegation to Brazil in June of this year, in anticipation of the 2nd Brazil-CARICOM summit scheduled to be held in Surinam later on this year. While in São Paulo, the minister had a sit down interview with Ms. Gillian Giwa, a scholar on Brazil-CARICOM trade at the University of São Paulo and founder and chief trade researcher at Inter-Línguas Communication Limited. Inter-Línguas is a Jamaican company dedicated to mediating multinational / intercultural negotiations and conducts research geared towards facilitating Brazil – CARICOM trade. During the interview, the Minister highlighted the vast opportunities for trade between Jamaica and its partners in the South.

According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, Brazil is currently Jamaica´s third largest import partner, already accumulating over US$ 49,960,957 in imports from Brazil this year. With exports significantly lagging behind, Brazil´s over 200 million inhabitants with its vast geographical, gastronomical and regional distinctiveness creates a vast market for Jamaican goods. Though issues of language, brand awareness and market requirements create initial challenges for Jamaican exporters, the potential of the Brazilian market should be incentive enough to encourage Jamaican companies to overcome these hurdles.

Minister Nicholson posits that though “our traditional trade partners are still at the forefront to our minds, Jamaica has had no other choice but to look south”. According to Minister Nicholson, “traditionally, historically, Jamaica has not only been looking northwards and into Europe, but within the CARICOM as well, and that has had to change since the entire world has moved in a different direction”.

The first Brazil-CARICOM summit was held in April 2010 and resulted in Jamaica benefitting from several technical cooperation agreements with Brazil, such as a Memorandum of Understanding in the area of civil defense and a complementary agreement on human resources training for the development of agricultural chains. In anticipation of the summit´s second edition, Jamaica has set its ambitions on even greater partnerships with this South American giant. For Minister Nicholson, Jamaica’s future cannot rest only on an integration movement within CARICOM. It must also look toward the opportunities in Latin America and more specifically Brazil.


Gillian Giwa é bacharel em Psicologia pela UFSC, mestranda do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Relações Internacionais do IRI-USP e pesquisadora do Caeni-USP.

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