The governments of Jamaica and China have signed four agreements among which will see the Asian superpower provide the island with billions of dollars in grants and loans to facilitate infrastructure development.
The agreements reaffirm growing ties between Jamaica and China, which is now the island’s biggest trading partner, and followed an official welcome ceremony for Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“It is really a pleasure for us to be here and I want to thank you on behalf of the delegation for the warmth and hospitality we have received since being here,” Simpson Miller told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the ceremony, which saw the Jamaican head of state welcomed with red carpet and gun salute.
The agreements include the construction of schools and loan support for the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP).
Last year February, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton, said plans were in place to set up Jamaica as a major logistic centre within the Caribbean region.
He said that clear and well-defined strategy is now being put together by the ministry, and in a short while, will be articulated to the Jamaican public.
“There is tremendous benefit in Jamaica moving as quickly as possible to seize the opportunity to develop its capability as a local logistics centre and as a whole, a major logistics hub,” he said, following a tour of J Wray and Nephew’s manufacturing and bottling facilities located on Spanish Town Road in St Andrew recently.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, on Friday (August 23), outlined the mutual benefits which Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China can derive from Jamaica’s Global Logistics Hub Initiative.
Addressing a business seminar and matchmaking meeting for Jamaican and Chinese entrepreneurs in Beijing, Simpson Miller said the hub’s development represents the next stage in the expansion of Jamaica’s airport, seaport, and industrial infrastructure.
The undertaking, she noted, would, among other things, facilitate smooth movement into and through the island for the estimated 800 million-person market spanning North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, while assuring that Jamaica is in “implementation mode” to undertake the development.
“China can share in Jamaica’s efforts and prosper from the global logistics hub initiative by deploying Chinese technology and ingenuity to produce world class goods and services in Jamaica. You have the opportunity to be in partnership with us, using the combined skills and cultural talents of the Jamaican workforce in special economic zones and commercial parks to be developed in Jamaica,” she said.
The Prime Minister also informed of investment opportunities in tourism; agriculture, particularly agro parks development for boosting food production for the domestic and international markets; fresh water fish production for export; and telecommunications, among others areas.
“Now is the time to expand into new markets; establish your manufacturing and distribution bases in Jamaica. So if you want to invest in Jamaica, I would encourage you to do so at this time. I do not believe that there is a better place anywhere (for) investing (now, than) Jamaica,” she emphasised.
Simpson Miller said the Jamaican government welcomes long term investments that will not only offer attractive returns for investors, but also yield significant and sustainable benefits for Jamaica, adding that:
“Our mission here is to continue to build that strong bridge between Jamaica and China.”
Meanwhile, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President, Francis Kennedy, is optimistic about the likely positive outcomes for the country which the forum and trip to China by the government and private sector delegations will provide. He informed that representatives from about 47 business entities have already indicated interests they would like to pursue in Jamaica.