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Canada-Jamaica relations

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Bilateral relations

Canada and Jamaica have shared strong bilateral relations since Jamaica gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. Beyond a deep friendship, Canada and Jamaica benefit from a rich and diverse bilateral relationship, founded on our shared democratic heritage, common values, and strong people-to-people ties, including a large and vibrant Canadian-Jamaican diaspora community of over 300,000 people. The strength of Canada and Jamaica’s ties is also manifested in the education and tourism sectors. Many Jamaicans come to Canada every year as students, while  thousands of Canadians visit Jamaica each year, representing Jamaica’s second largest source of foreign tourists. The Canadian-Jamaican bilateral relationship also encompasses trade and investment, security and defence, and development cooperation. Additionally, Canadians farms employ about 10,000 Jamaicans annually as part of Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program.

Canada and Jamaica are mostly like-minded partners on the international stage, as both are strongly committed to advancing progressive and democratic values, as well as a rules-based international order. Our countries work together to co-chair the Group of Friends of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Financing at the United Nations, an innovative platform to discuss and promote ideas to finance the implementation of the SDGs.

Canada is represented in Jamaica by a High Commission in Kingston and an honorary consul in Montego Bay. Jamaica is represented in Canada by a High Commission in Ottawa and consulates in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Victoria.

Trade relations

Jamaica is Canada's fourth largest merchandise trading partner within the Caribbean Community.

In 2022, two-way merchandise trade was valued at $217.3 million, with Canadian exports of $156.2 million covering a wide range of goods including meat products, pharmaceutical products, and electrical machinery and equipment. Imports from Jamaica were valued at $61.1 million and consisted mainly of aluminum oxides, prepared foodstuffs, and beverages and spirits. Areas of trade collaboration include clean technologies and the energy sector.

Due to the Commonwealth Caribbean Countries Tariff (CARIBCAN) - an economic and trade development assistance program for the Commonwealth Caribbean countries and territories established by Canada in 1985 – and Canada’s other Tariff preference measures, 94% of all Caribbean exports to Canada enter duty free.

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Development

Canada’s development programming in the Caribbean region is focused on mutual priorities, such as climate and economic resilience, sustainable and inclusive governance, and advancing of gender equality.

Following the 2017 hurricane season that devastated the Caribbean, Canada announced a 5-year $100 million Pledge for Caribbean Reconstruction and Economic and Climate Resilience. The pledge was fulfilled in 2022, and included strengthening natural disaster planning and response through organisations such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

At the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in The Bahamas, Canada announced $44.8 million in new initiatives to help support CARICOM in addressing the climate crisis by protecting more biodiversity and improving climate resilience and disaster preparedness. Canada continues to advocate for small island and low-lying states in the Caribbean, who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change like rising sea levels and extreme weather events. During the COVID-19 crisis, Canada redirected programming to respond to Jamaican and Caribbean needs, including to address gender-based violence, income support and essential services, training and technical assistance for health professionals, as well as supplies and protective equipment. Canada has been particularly active in Jamaica and regionally in supporting access to justice, including the continued provision of justice services through the pandemic.

A principle means of working in the Caribbean is through technical assistance and training to increase the capacity of governments and organizations. For instance, the Canada-CARICOM Expert Deployment Mechanism provides technical assistance to CARICOM governments, including Jamaica, to help diversify and strengthen the economy, build climate resilient communities, and reduce gender and economic inequalities.

Jamaica and Canada also collaborate closely in key regional and multilateral fora and institutions, such as the Caribbean Development Bank. Canada represents Jamaica and other Caribbean nations on the Board of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Information on Canadian development initiatives is available on Project Browser.

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Security

Jamaica and Canada have a long history of close cooperation in the area of defence and security, including more than 50 years of relations between the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Jamaica Defence Force. The CAF maintains an Operational Support Hub in Jamaica and in the wake of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the CAF provided air transport for the Jamaican Disaster Assistance Relief Team to provide humanitarian aid to The Bahamas. Canada is a key partner for Jamaica in its efforts to fight crime and violence. Our countries collaborate on a number of initiatives in defence and security under Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP).

The ACCBP supports Op ACKEE, a Special Operations Forces (SOF) training program that has been ongoing since 2009 to mentor, enable, and create opportunities for the Jamaica Defence Force to grow as a Special Operations Forces leader and more effectively combat trans-regional threats in the Caribbean Basin. Other regional partners include Belize, The Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname.

Partnerships and organizations

To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Jamaica work closely in multilateral fora, such as:

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