Jamaica to Focus on Increasing Trade with China

Prime Minister Andrew Holness delivering his statement in the House of Representatives. (Photo credit: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday November 28, 2019 – Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Jamaica and China will focus on increasing trade, particularly in getting more Jamaican goods into the Chinese market.

He said that already Jamaica has begun exporting live lobsters to the East Asian nation, and is in the process of finalizing the procedures with the Chinese authorities to allow for the export of frozen lobsters.

“The new strategic partnership reflects an enhanced level of engagement between the two countries within the context of Jamaica’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” he said in a statement to the House of Representatives, following his recent eight-day official working visit to China.

“The strategic partnership positions Jamaica to pursue development cooperation with China, in keeping with our own clearly defined national development strategic priorities on the basis of mutual respect and shared benefits.”

The BRI is a new model of international development cooperation, promoting broad and inclusive connectivity across countries and regions. It also provides a powerful framework to ensure that development cooperation brings shared benefits to China and its partners.

Holness reiterated that Jamaica will not negotiate any new loan programmes with China, as it seeks to reduce the country’s debt.

“Infrastructure projects will, therefore, take the modalities of joint-venture partnership, public-private partnership or private-sector partnerships directly between Jamaican firms and Chinese firms as the normal course of business,” he said.

The Prime Minister informed that under the new cooperation framework, investments will be more strategic and focused on the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and logistic hubs, urban centre development, water and sewerage, agriculture and affordable housing.

“We have seen interested investors in the development of [Caymanas] SEZ out of China. There are issues, obviously, because we have to figure out how we are going to approach this. Are we going to treat it on a sole source, do we treat it as a strategic investment, or do we put out open tender….Decisions [are] to be made,” Holness said.

He said the Lower House will be updated with further details on the plans going forward.

Holness also told the Lower House that another area of cooperation under the partnership is education. He said focus will be placed on technology training and building out more school infrastructure.

Later this month, the Vice Minister of Education for China, Weng Tiehui, will pay a working visit to Jamaica to sign a memorandum of understanding in the field of education and to exchange views on strategies needed to prepare “our societies for the future of work”, the Prime Minister said.

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