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France and Jamaica

Political relations

Technical and cultural cooperation is governed by agreements signed in 1972 and 1987. The reopening of the Embassy of France in Kingston in April 1999 helped to give fresh impetus to bilateral relations.

French presence

Consulate closed following conversion of post to a diplomatic presence post (PPD). Post activities have been transferred to Panama.
French community (register June 2020): 108 French nationals

Visits

President of the French Republic

  • 10 March 2000 (Pointe à Pitre, Guadeloupe): Meeting between President Jacques Chirac and Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson (France/CARIFORUM Summit)
  • 1 December 2018 (Buenos Aires): Meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Andrew Holness on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Minister of Foreign Affairs

  • 2014: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnold Nicholson met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius.

Other officials:

  • Two visits by Jean-Pierre Bel, personal envoy of the President of the French Republic, from 6 to 9 April 2015 and 23 to 26 November 2016
  • Visit by a delegation of senators (Ms Hélène Conway-Mouret, Mr Pierre Louault and Ms Catherine Conconne) to Kingston from 21 to 24 April 2018.
  • Delegation of business leaders led by MEDEF from 7 to 9 November 2018.

Ambassadors

  • French Ambassador to Jamaica: Mr Denys Wibaux (September 2018)
  • Jamaican Ambassador (in residence in Brussels): Ms Sheila Sealy Monteith (January 2018).

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 treatment for VINCI). Total and Rubis are involved in fuel distribution. Lafarge has a majority stake in a local cement works. CMA-CGM has chosen the port of Kingston as a regional hub and signed a contract with the Port Authority of Jamaica in April 2015, granting it the concession for a duration of 30 years for the Kingston Container Terminal. This contract, worth a total of €660 million, will make Kingston one of the top five Caribbean ports. In 2015, SOGET, an SME based in Le Havre, was awarded the contract for the management of the Port Community System (PCS) for the ports of Kingston and Montego Bay, with an offer of $25 million. It carries out regular maintenance operations and upgrades to facilities. In 2019, THALES won the coastal surveillance contract worth €32 million and is interested in several projects such as the construction of the police headquarters, which could be supported through a direct Treasury loan. The French company, through its affiliate GEMALTO, is in a good position to win the contract to produce national identity cards. SAGEM is active on the automated fingerprint database market and Vergnet provides wind turbines for the national electricity company. Neoen won the contract to build the biggest solar power plant in the Caribbean, with a capacity of 37 MW, for an estimated cost of $50 million, in the Westmoreland province in the south-west of Jamaica. Vinci Construction is involved in several projects including the expansion of the Pedro Plains irrigation system, following the feasibility study financed by France’s Private Sector Aid Fund (FASEP) carried out by Canal de Provence (total contract worth $170 million).

Proparco, an Agence Française de Développement (AFD/French Development Agency) affiliate, has supported the development of key infrastructures: the electricity grid, the highway (alongside Bouygues and Vinci) and the port of Kingston, operated by CMA-CGM, through four major projects signed for a total of $131 million.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our network is made up of a branch of the Alliance Française (82 students), run by a French international volunteer.

Relations between France and Jamaica in the area of higher education are in their infancy, and only a dozen or so Jamaican students are enrolled in France. Academic cooperation between France and Jamaica is mainly supported by the University of the West Indies (UWI), the country’s largest university in terms of both students and teaching staff. It is centred around three regional sites 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).

Shortwood Teachers College, Jamaica’s only teacher training college, signed a partnership with the University of Clermont-Ferrand, which hosts Jamaican students training to be French teachers for a three-month immersion course as part of their studies.

Furthermore, every year Shortwood Teachers College hosts one or two undergraduate- or masters-level students enrolled in the University of Montpellier Faculty of Education, who carry out a placement in a Jamaican school to teach French.

More than 30 young Jamaican students travel to France each year as English-language teaching assistants, some of whom go to French local communities in the Americas.

Other cooperation

Two Private Sector Aid Fund grants have been allocated to provide assistance with the following projects:

  • In the field of energy and energy efficiency, a feasibility study for an innovative air conditioning system (based on temperature differences in seawater - SWAC, or Sea Water Air Conditioning) in Norman Manley Airport in Kingston, the country’s second-largest airport, by companies Deprofundis and Doris. This project was approved in December 2017 for a cost of €444,532. Today, this fund has been fully allocated. Initial discussions were held between Doris and the airport’s winning bidder, the Mexican company TAG. TAG will not take effective “control” of the airport before October 2020, but energy efficiency is already high on its list of priorities. There is reasonable hope that the SWAC technical solution will attract its attention.
  • In the field of water and sanitation, a feasibility study for the expansion of the Pedro Plains irrigation system, in the south-west of Jamaica, using surface resources, by the company Canal de Provence. This project was approved in March 2018 for a cost of €692,540. The contract is underway. Today, the National Irrigation Commission believes that the work done by the French company is fully aligned with the project’s objectives.

Updated: June 2020