United Kingdom (UK)-based sugar processing and marketing company Tate and Lyle has expressed “very strong” interest in investing in Jamaica’s sugar industry, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw has said.
He made the revelation today (March 11) at the Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI) UK-Jamaica Investment Forum at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London.
Mr. Shaw, who is in London attending a series of investment and finance events, said he met with representatives of Tate and Lyle on Wednesday (March 10) and will be holding follow-up meetings tomorrow (March 12), to advance discussions.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw (centre), and Vice Chairman, Public Sector Global Banking, Citigroup Global Markets Limited, Phillip Bennett (right), listen to a point from Executive Secretary of the Washington-based Group of Thirty, Geoffrey Bell. Occasion was the United Kingdom-Jamaica Investment Forum, staged by Jamaica Trade and Invest today, March 11, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London. Group of Thirty is an influential and high powered council of private and central bankers.
Minister Shaw told JIS News that the interest from Tate and Lyle comes against the background of a European revival of interest in cane sugar.
He said any partnership struck with the company, which has been involved in the processing and marketing of sugar for over 200 years, would be an exciting one.
“They are looking at some kind of partnership with local entities. They have been the final processors and marketers of much of the sugar that comes from Jamaica. I think it would be very interesting as they would bring to the investment their own technology and their marketing expertise, which would work well with local investors in Jamaica,” he stated.
He said any proposal by Tate and Lyle would be considered within the overall competitive arena when the final decision is to be made.
“We have interest from and we have been doing business with Eridania in Italy and strong private sector entities in Jamaica. We welcome the interest from Tate and Lyle as they have had a long history with Jamaica’s sugar industry and when we get to the appropriate stage they will be considered among all others,” the Minister stated.
Declaring that “sugar in Jamaica is not dead,” he said that Jamaica’s sugar industry offers exciting prospects for the future and it is encouraging to see the major players in the industry showing renewed interest.
He said two of the five government-owned sugar estates that have already been divested have been showing strong improvements and transformation under new private sector ownership. He expressed confidence that with the interest being shown by Tate and Lyle and others, the sugar industry would return to profitability once again becoming a major source of jobs and a leading foreign exchange earner for the Jamaican economy.
Long Pond in Trelawny and Duckenfield in St. Thomas have already been sold while the Government is eagerly seeking to ink deals for the divestment of Frome, Westmoreland; Monymusk, Clarendon, and Bernard Lodge in St. Catherine.
The sugar divestment programme is being spearheaded by Aubyn Hill of consultancy firm Corporate Strategies Limited. It is expected to remove billions of dollars in expenditure from the public purse while modernising the industry and securing the jobs of workers.
Minister Shaw was the main presenter at the UK-Jamaica Investment Forum. Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Mr. Brian Wynter and Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern also made presentations.
Minister Shaw will address the Jamaican community in London at a specially organised meeting at Westminster on Friday evening. He returns to the island on Saturday.