Jamaica to Host China-Caribbean Economic Trade Fair and Forum


Jamaica has become one of the most important transhipment ports in the English-speaking Caribbean, with a port facility that boasts ultramodern, state-of-the-art equipment and probably the most developed marine administration in the wider Caribbean.
These are just some of the reasons why Jamaica was selected to host the China-Caribbean Economic Trade Fair and Forum, asserted Chairman of the Trade Fair Planning Committee, Robert Stephens, in an interview with JIS News.
Having been afforded this privilege, the Port Authority of Jamaica is positioning Jamaica to be selected as the distribution hub of the Americas and wider Caribbean, he added.
The developments and achievements of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) have put the island in good stead to manage the amount and type of trading traffic that should emerge as a result of the Trade Fair and Forum, which will be held in February 2005, however, the PAJ is taking further steps to position the island as the only logical choice.
“We are expanding our port facilities. Our capacity is now at 1.2 million TEUs [Twenty-foot Equivalent Units] but by mid-year 2005, we will be up to about 1.5 million TEUs, so we are preparing ourselves to handle more traffic,” Mr. Stephens, who is also a Senior Vice President at the PAJ, disclosed.
Additionally, the PAJ is “in the process of organising for the development of a new Free Zone, which would be a commercial Free Zone that will be used as a distribution hub, not just for Chinese companies and Chinese goods, but for goods from all over the world coming in to the Americas,” he continued.
Mr. Stephens added, “We are looking therefore, at the 800 million people that live in the Americas as one of the most affluent markets in the world, that can be served through Jamaica.”
The island’s location is also a critical factor. “Jamaica has a very strategic and important location. We are at the centre of the Caribbean and we are on the axis of the North-South shipping and trading lines, we are on the East-West shipping lines as well, and all the air traffic between South America and North America passes over Jamaica, so really we are ideally located to be a distribution hub,” the Trade Fair Chairman explained.
In addition, he said Jamaica was already “the main trading partner with China in the English-speaking Caribbean” and being selected as the distribution hub will see “mega liners bringing in 6,000-8,000 TEUs, which can be unloaded in Jamaica, repacked, sorted etcetera, and consolidated and sent to countries throughout the region in smaller packages or in containers that have a mixture of various goods.”
To this end, the Trade Fair organisers are seeking “to attract a number of the companies that are involved in providing logistic services, whether this be the ‘FedExes’ or the ‘UPS’s’ of the world, and also companies that are looking to set up in Jamaica, (and) do manufacturing for export to the Americas,” said Mr. Stephens.
The China-Caribbean Trade Fair and Forum will open up a number of opportunities for all businesses currently in trading and will allow Caribbean businesspeople, particularly the Jamaica 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 regions throughout the wider Caribbean, Latin America and the Americas.
The Chinese companies coming for the Trade Fair are all looking for business collaboration and trading and manufacturing partners, as well as banking and insurance service providers, shipping agents, customs brokers and general trade, investment, development and manufacturing service providers.
The Trade Forum scheduled for February 2-3 will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, and the Trade Fair, which is scheduled for February 2-5, will be held at the National Arena.
Both the Trade Fair and Forum are aimed at strengthening trade, economic and technical cooperation between China and the Caribbean. All CARICOM member countries and Cuba have been invited to participate and some delegations are already confirmed from the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

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