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A Government delegation, led by Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, recently staged a successful five-day mission to China, which included several high level meetings, as well as the signing of major infrastructure development agreements, as the Government seeks to lay a platform to build on economic relations with that country.
Mr. Golding and his delegation, which included Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh; Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Hon. Karl Samuda; Minister of Transport and Works Hon. Michael Henry, along with top officials and senior executives from several Government agencies, held talks with Chinese Government officials and sector leaders across several areas, including energy, and bauxite/alumina, and a range of investment interests.
Mr. Golding and his team hit the ground running, holding a series of meetings with investors. At a forum on China’s State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC) on February 2, he told business leaders that the Jamaican Government wants to develop the island as a hub for Chinese commerce and trade, along with the wider Central and South American countries.
“We are strategically located, sitting mid-point between North and South America. We have the seventh largest natural harbour in the world and we have a port which we want to develop into an entire complex using the facilities for the trans-shipment, assembly and the break bulking of goods that would come from China for markets in Central, South America and the Caribbean,” he outlined.
Mr. Golding said Jamaica was particularly interested in investments separate from loans to the country as his Government is pursuing a strategy to reduce Jamaica’s high level of indebtedness.
“Many of the things that need to be done to stimulate development on a sustained basis can be done by private investments. Even where it has to be a state sponsored project, it would generate its own internal returns to support the financing that would be required to make the investment possible,” he said.
Projects Explored With SDIC Technical Team
The SDIC through its Chief Executive Officer, Wang Huisheng agreed to have its technical team meet with members of the Jamaican delegation while they were in Beijing.
Based on these consultations, two teams are expected to further explore and identify projects that could assist Jamaica in its own development while further strengthening China’s relationship with the Caribbean and Latin America.
Mr. Golding welcomed the opportunities offered by SDIC through its investment company, China National Complete Plant (COMPLANT) Corporation Group, for investments that have been to the mutual benefit of both countries.
COMPLANT, which is already a major investor in Jamaica through the construction of the Trelawny stadium, and the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James, is now considering making additional investments in other areas. COMPLANT is authorised by the Chinese Government to implement economic aid to foreign countries by undertaking turn-key projects and offering technical assistance. It also plays an important role in international civil engineering contracting and providing labour services.
“The SDIC will support COMPLANT to do further business in Jamaica and agrees that COMPLANT will never leave Jamaica,” Mr. Wang Huisheng assured.
PM Highlights Investment Opportunities
Addressing a luncheon of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade on February 3, Mr. Golding also noted to the business leaders and potential investors, that the relationship between Jamaica and China has been through many phases, such as programmes of cultural exchanges, financial assistance and more recently, the provision of lines of credit and Chinese companies undertaking major projects in Jamaica, as part of the programme of economic co-operation.
He said that these initiatives have brought great benefits to Jamaica in its quest to achieve the kind of development that can ensure a good quality of life for the people of Jamaica.
Mr. Golding pointed out that Jamaica offered China tremendous opportunities in terms of its global reach and penetration. “Jamaica is positioned one-and-a-half hours by air from North America and even less from Central America, within a region that has a population of over 700 million people. We see Jamaica as a strategic location that would enhance investments from China seeking to address the growing demands in this particular part of the world,” he explained.
Presentations were also made at the event by Minister Samuda on the range of opportunities that exist for doing business in Jamaica.
Still on the investment path, Prime Minister Golding told reporters of the China Daily newspaper on February 3 that the Jamaican Government was seeking to encourage Chinese investment in additional acreages of Blue Mountain Coffee.
“We can produce four times the volume of coffee that we are now producing, but it requires capital, it requires technology and it requires that kind of investment, and what we are saying to China, let’s not try to share up the limited coffee that we have, let’s go produce some more coffee,” Mr. Golding said. He assured that the island was ready and willing to receive Chinese investment to expand the production of Blue Mountain Coffee.
US$500 Million Agreements
Signed On February 3, the Government of Jamaica and the Chinese Government signed agreements totalling more than US$500 million, for the construction of affordable housing solutions, road repair and rehabilitation, as well as shoreline protection and rehabilitation of the Palisadoes roadway in Kingston. The agreement also includes the construction of a Chinese Garden at the Hope Botanical Gardens.
The signing, which was held at a special ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, saw Dr. Baugh signing on behalf of Jamaica, while Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce, Fu Ziying, and the Chairman and President of the EXIM Bank of China, Li Ruogu signed on behalf of the Government of China.
The agreements were inked following an official meeting by the Jamaican delegation with China’s premier, His Excellency Wen Jiabao.
China Urged To Advocate For Developing Countries
During his meeting with China’s President His Excellency Hu Jintao at the Fujian Hall of the People in Beijing, as he wrapped up his official visit to China, Mr. Golding used the opportunity to note China’s significant role in the world economy, and its understanding of the challenges facing the developing world. He noted that countries like Jamaica are looking to China to be their advocate at summits such as the G20 where developing countries are not represented.
“We do not sit in the G20. Our voice where we are allowed to sit is weak and so the imbalances in the economic architecture need to be addressed,” Mr. Golding said.
Mr. Golding said the global economic arrangements involved significant imbalances that impact negatively on developing countries. “It is particularly difficult for countries like Jamaica which are regarded under the UN (United Nations) classification as a middle income country and consequently have no access to concessionary financing available to poor countries. Yet we are heavily indebted and we have significant elements of poverty that need to be addressed,” he said.
The Prime Minister said countries like Jamaica, which are undertaking policy reforms, need access to cheaper funds and should not be considered as high risks. He also expressed the view that the multilaterals need to look at developing states not only from the point of view of their balance of payment and fiscal challenges, but also their assessment, and commitment to development.
President Hu Jintao Expresses Confidence In Economic Programme
In his response, President Hu Jintao noted that although China sits on the G20, it has not lost sight of the fact that it is regarded as a developing country and would not hesitate to support countries such as Jamaica in answering this call.
The President said he had taken note that although Jamaica was facing serious economic challenges, the Golding-led Government had implemented a medium term economic programme and had put forward a number of initiatives.
He expressed confidence in the Jamaican Government’s commitment to developing the economy and improving the lives of its people. President Jintao also commended Jamaica on the active role it is playing in Caribbean integration, adding that he was confident that under Prime Minister Golding’s leadership, the country will be able to triumph over its economic challenges, and become prosperous.

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