France and Jamaica

Political relations

• French Ambassador to Jamaica: Mr Jean-Michel Despax (July 2014)
• Jamaican Ambassador (in residence in Brussels): Ms Vilma McNish (11 July 2012)
Technical and cultural cooperation is governed by agreements signed in 1972 and 1987 respectively. The reopening of the Embassy in Kingston in April 1999 helped to give fresh momentum to bilateral relations.
Official contacts
President of the French Republic
10 March 2000 (Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe): Meeting between Mr Chirac and Jamaican Prime Minister, Mr Patterson (France/CARIFORUM Summit)
Ministerial visits to France
• 2006: Minister of National Security, received by the Director-General of the National Police
• 2012: Minister of Water, Environment and Climate Change
• 2014: Mr Arnold Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade

Other officials

Visit by Mr Jean-Pierre Bel, personal envoy of the President of the French Republic, 6-9 April 2015

Economic relations

There are two main agreements between France and Jamaica, one on the encouragement and protection of investments, signed in January 1993, and the other on double taxation, signed in August 1995. The last financial protocol dates back to 1997.

French businesses are active in the infrastructure sector (Bouygues until 2012, water processing for VINCI). Total is involved in fuel distribution. Lafarge North America acquired a majority shareholding in a local cement works. And in particular, the shipping company CMA CGM chose the port of Kingston as its regional hub and on 7 April 2015 signed a contract with the Port Authority of Jamaica, granting it the concession to operate the container terminal at Kingston Port for 30 years. This transaction totalling €600 million (the largest French investment in the Caribbean Basin) will make Kingston one of the five largest ports in the Caribbean. CMA CGM has pledged to undertake dredging operations in order to enable container ships which meet the New Panamax standard to dock in Kingston. SAGEM is active on the automated fingerprint database market and Vergnet provides wind turbines for the national electricity company.

PROPARCO, AFD Group’s private sector subsidiary, is running two major projects in Jamaica; one is a €30.8 million project with the TransJamaican Highway Limited, a joint venture between Bouygues and VINCI to operate motorways, and the other a €33.2 million project with the Jamaican Public Service Company, which is 80% owned by the Japanese group Marubeni and 20% by the State. The first of these projects also involves the IDB, IFC and EIB.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our network is limited to an Alliance française (332 students), and academic cooperation between France and Jamaica is mainly supported by the University of the West Indies (UWI), the country’s largest public university both in terms of students and teaching staff. It is centred around three regional offices based in Jamaica (Mona Campus), Barbados (Cave Hill Campus) and Trinidad and Tobago (St Augustine Campus). The most emblematic partnership with the University of the West Indies is based on triangular cooperation with the Bordeaux Institute of Political Studies (IEP) and the University of the French West Indies and Guiana (UAG). This partnership allows Jamaican and French students to complete a Master’s in Political Studies and International Cooperation, whose training course in French and English is taught by three establishments over five years. This programme, which began in 2010, received prior support from the regional PREFALC “France, Latin America, Caribbean” programme, co-financed by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Thirty-one students have graduated from this programme.
Another academic exchange programme was built around the training of secondary school teachers between the School of Teaching and Education (ESPE) in Montpellier and Shortwood Teachers’ College in Kingston. This cooperation began in 2009 and sends students from Shortwood Teachers’ College to Montpellier for a six-week training course. In exchange, students from Montpellier travel to Jamaica on work placements, teaching French in schools there. In March 2015, three students from Montpellier were given a placement at the Stella Maris Preparatory School and Mona Preparatory School.

About ten Jamaican students are registered in French universities; over 20 young Jamaican students travel to France each year as English-language teaching assistants, some of whom go to French local governments in the Americas.
Jamaican environmental NGOs receive financing from the French Development Agency (AFD) through a regional project grant, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) programme.