On Monday, February 1, Jamaican Ambassador to the United States of America created history by becoming the first Jamaican Ambassador to the United States to address a formal sitting of the Senate Chamber, where he was well received.
With the kind facilitation of Jamaican-born Maryland State Senator Shirley Nathan Pulliam, His Excellency Ralph Thomas, along with a delegation from the Embassy, called on Officials of the State of Maryland at the State’s capital, Annapolis.
The State officials receiving the delegation included: Lieutenant Governor the Hon. Boyd Rutherford; Secretary of State the Hon. John Wobensmith, Secretary of Agriculture the Hon. Joe Bartenfelder and Senator Nathan Pulliam. Also in attendance was a representative from the Department of Commerce.
With a view to strengthening the relationship between the State of Maryland and Jamaica, Ambassador Thomas noted the sizable population of Jamaicans living in the State, many of whom are highly skilled, educated, first, second and third generation Jamaicans who were active in the community and participate in the political process of the State.
He recalled critical facts in the relationship between Jamaica and the United States, including their third border geospatial reality; significant economic, trade and cultural relationships and the fact that Jamaica is a popular destination for over a million American tourists annually.
Ambassador Thomas used the opportunity to highlight some of the key growth areas in Jamaica that could be of interest to investors from Maryland. These include: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO); tourism (including medical tourism); manufacturing; renewable energy; agriculture; infrastructure development; Jamaica’s logistics hub and maritime initiatives.
Ambassador Thomas also toured agricultural testing and research facilities with the Secretary of Agriculture and identified areas of cooperation in agriculture, education and training.
Senator Nathan Pulliam, who has served previously for 20 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, hosted the delegation at a reception, attended by several other State officials, business persons and influential members of the Jamaican community, including the Presidents and members of Diaspora organizations – National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO) and Jamaican Association of Maryland (JAM).
Ambassador Thomas was accompanied on the tour by Deputy Chief of Mission, Mrs. Marsha Coore-Lobban and Minister-Counsellor for Trade and Economic Affairs, Mrs. Ariel Bowen.