JIS News

Wayne McCook, Senior Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has said that private sector response to the upcoming China-Caribbean Economic Co-operation Trade Forum has been so overwhelming, that they have had to close registration for the event.
Speaking with JIS News following a press conference to brief journalists on the schedule for the upcoming China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Co-operation Forum and Trade Fair, he said that although interested persons were given until the day of the forum to register to participate in the event, the organisers have had to reconsider.
“We have tried to make some accommodation, but of course we are constrained by the capacity of the facilities we are using, as well as the need to ensure that we have an orderly arrangement for the forum and trade fair. That is why we had to conclude the general registration process,” Mr. McCook, who is Chairman of the Trade Forum Planning Committee, said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, K.D. Knight, who chaired the press conference, which was held in Kingston last week, lauded the response from the private sector in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean and highlighted the benefits, which would redound from the staging of such an event in the region.
“The purpose [of the forum] is to strengthen trade and economic and technical co-operation between China and the Caribbean region. This activity is seen as providing an excellent opportunity for the countries in the region to attract greater Chinese investment,” the Minister said.
The China-Caribbean Trade Fair and Forum will open up tremendous opportunities for all businesses currently in trading and will allow Caribbean businesspeople, particularly the Jamaican manufacturing and distributive sectors, an opportunity to make linkages with Chinese companies that wish to set up operations in Jamaica, either for assembly, manufacturing or distribution to the wider Caribbean, Latin America and the Americas.
Scheduled for February 2-3, the forum will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre and the idea is to have both Government and major private sector leaders discuss “how to facilitate more trade and more investment between the regions”.
The forum, which has as its theme: ‘Promoting Friendship and Partnership for Common Development’, will be divided into two parts to facilitate government-to-government exchanges and business-to-business deals.
“The inter-governmental exchange will address issues relating to trade and investment, human resource development, agriculture, fisheries, science and technology, finance as well as tourism and transportation, while the business conference will concentrate on seminars on doing business with China and also with the Caribbean,” Mr. Knight said.
Dr. Wykeham McNeill, State Minister in the Ministry of Industry and Tourism will preside over the opening ceremony for the Trade Forum, which will be held at 9:00 a.m. at the Conference Centre. At the ceremony, His Excellency, Zeng Qinghong, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China and Prime Minister P.J. Patterson will address the gathering.
In addition, during this ceremony critical memoranda will be signed.
“The guiding framework document establishing the forum will be signed, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding granting approved destination status to three Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and St. Lucia,” Minister Knight informed.
The Guiding Framework for Economic and Trade Co-operation is an agreed framework for the establishment of the mechanism, which will help to streamline the relationship between the region and China, and has come about as a result of discussions and negotiations between China and the Caribbean.
This document provides a basis for greater co-operation and interaction between the two regions.Following the opening ceremony, speakers from China and the Caribbean region will make presentations in the plenary session. Rounding off the first day of the forum, there will be interactive group seminar discussions on four main issues – Trade and Investment and Human Resource Development; Tourism and Transportation (Aviation); Agriculture, Fishery , Science and Technology; and Finance.
“Jamaica will speak on Finance and Transportation, however, we will be prepared to make contributions in the other areas,” said Minister Knight.
Meanwhile, the business conference will be held on the second and final day of the Trade Forum. This will provide “an opportunity for companies in the Caribbean and those in China, to develop partnerships and explore the possibility of other kinds of business relationships”, he said.
“Within this [business conference], there will be two seminars – ‘Doing Business with China’ and the ‘Caribbean Business Environment’ in the morning, and the afternoon is scheduled for business matchmaking. JAMPRO has been charged with organising the Caribbean participants for this event,” the Minister explained.
At the end of these discussions, a press conference will be convened at the same venue (Jamaica Conference Centre), to highlight the proceedings and the results of the forum.