JIS News

Come February 2005, hundreds of Chinese and Caribbean businessmen and government officials will converge in Jamaica to participate in the China-Caribbean Trade Forum and Fair, from which critical alliances and partnerships are expected to be forged.
“The Chinese are coming to look for partners, because they recognise that there are benefits to partnering with Caribbean countries and we [the Port Authority of Jamaica] are essentially promoting Jamaica as a major hub for distribution and manufacturing of goods to move into the Americas,” said Robert Stephens, Senior Vice President of Business Development at the Port Authority of Jamaica.
Mr. Stephens, who is also the chairman of the trade fair planning committee, was addressing members of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce at the organisation’s Duke Street office earlier this week, where he pointed out that doing business with China was not a new phenomenon, however, an effort was being made to strengthen ties.
“We have built up a very long and strong relationship with them; we are now the number one trader with China in the English-speaking Caribbean. We sell bauxite alumina to them, and they sell a number of goods, including of course the cranes that we use on the ports,” Mr. Stephens pointed out.
The forum and trade fair are being held through the collaborative efforts of the governments of Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China.
Scheduled for February 2-3 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, the forum will see government and major private sector leaders getting together to discuss how they could facilitate more trade and investment between the regions.
Meanwhile, the trade fair, which is scheduled for February 2-5 at the National Arena, will provide an opportunity for Jamaican and Caribbean businesspersons “to actually see and touch, the products and understand the services that are being offered by the Chinese companies,” Mr. Stephens informed.
“The trade fair is going to have in the range of 200 companies from China and many of these companies are controlled by group companies, and in fact, many of them have up to 50 subsidiaries,” he said further, noting that the first day of the fair would be dedicated to business-to-business deals and the other two days would be open to the general public.
The Chinese companies that are coming to Jamaica for the events are involved in various sectors and cover a wide gamut of businesses including investment and trade, manufacturing, telecommunications, information technology and tourism.
At the fair, the Chinese will showcase their wares in the hope of securing partners in businesses such as mechanical and electronic products, household appliances, handicrafts, light industry products, textile and garments, bio-pharmaceutical technology and products, agriculture and primary products, and hi-tech communication and information products.
“The idea of creating this distribution hub and manufacturing hub is that we can develop relationships with Chinese companies, particularly our manufacturing sector in Jamaica. They can partner with them and look now at a much larger market, not only Caribbean or Latin American, but the whole Americas market, moving into partnerships with companies that are in the range of US$3.5 – 4 billion worth of sales worldwide,” Mr. Stephens informed.
Addressing the fears expressed by some manufacturers and businessmen that the Chinese were coming to “flood the market”, Mr. Stephens said that Jamaica already does significant business with China, however, “there are things that are made in Jamaica that are unique such as sauces,” and forming partnerships with Chinese companies will only augur well for Jamaican businesses.
“We can look at an improvement in the investment in these companies and looking of course at a much bigger market, and also, when you look at the equipment that many of the companies are using now, some of them are from countries where the costs are very high.the Chinese equipment is extremely good as well, and it’s much cheaper in most cases,” he assured.
China, one of the fastest growing economies in the world with an impressive record in industrial production, is seeking to expand its productive base by outsourcing some of its production activities, continued Mr. Stephens. This forum and fair is therefore an excellent opportunity for Jamaica, and by extension the Caribbean, to attract even greater Chinese investment.
Two hundred buyers and businesspersons from across the Caribbean are also expected to attend and participate in the events.

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