Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and the Public Service the Hon. Audley Shaw met with his Chinese counterpart Finance Minister His Excellency Xie Xuren on Monday, June 20 in Beijing. The Ministers engaged in a wide-ranging exchange of views on bilateral economic and financial issues.
Commenting on the increasing number of high-level visits taking place between Chinese and Jamaica officials, Minister Xie took note of the rapid development of economic and trade relations between China and Jamaica. He praised the Friendly Partnership for Common Development concluded between China and Jamaica in 2005 and credited it with facilitating the strong relationship which exists between both countries. He noted that bilateral trade between China and Jamaica reached a value of US$237 million in 2010.
Minister Shaw recongized the efforts of the Chinese Government to further develop and position Shanghai as an international financial centre. He informed Minister Xie that the GOJ also had plans to develop the City of Kingston as a regional hub for financial services and wished China to consider the basis on which it could utilise Jamaica as a financial centre to support its rapidly expanding business activities in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Minister Shaw also expressed Jamaica’s gratitude for the significant economic support that China provided during the global financial crisis, acknowledging that it had come at a critical time when Jamaica was negotiating a Stand-By Agreement with the IMF.
In reference to the JDIP road infrastructure programme, Minister Shaw said that the project was well underway and that China Harbour Engineering Company Limited was providing high quality engineering and construction services, while transferring valuable technical know-how to Jamaicans. He also conveyed the Jamaica government’s gratitude for the financial assistance granted by the Ex-Im Bank of China to the programme.
Minister Shaw raised the need for special consideration to be given to Highly Indebted Middle Income Countries (HIMIC) like Jamaica. Noting their limited fiscal space and the restrictions it imposed on vital public spending, he solicited China’s support in encouraging the multilateral financial institutions to support infrastructure investments in HIMIC countries.
Both Ministers said they looked forward to the 3rd China/Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum due to be staged in Port of Spain later this year. They agreed that it would open new avenues of opportunity in the areas of trade and investment cooperation.
Minister Xie said that the Chinese government encouraged Chinese companies to expand trade and investment with Jamaica, based on the principle of mutual interest and benefit. He said that China stood ready to cooperate further with Jamaica in all fields, including the areas of trade and people-to-people relations.
Minister Shaw told Minister Xie that Jamaica was “inspired by the fact that what China earned in revenue for the year 1978, it now earned in just one week”. He assured his counterpart that China’s investment in Jamaica would not be wasted, but “would allow Jamaica to become a little China”.