Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Shanghai, China:Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has made an impassioned plea to Chinese investors to join the revolution which is about to take place in Jamaica as a result of the creation of a logistics hub.
"Jamaica is in implementation mode, positioning our island as the logistics hub in the Western Hemisphere," the prime minister told a group of investors.
She said the initiative represents the next stage of the evolution of the island's ports and industrial facilities, and has the potential to recoup investors' capital, especially with the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is due to be completed in 2015.
"Jamaica is poised to benefit significantly from the expected increase in cargo and business through the canal to regional transshipment points. Jamaica offers an ideal location for warehousing, distribution, labelling and manufacturing of your goods with easy access to the 800-million-person market spread across the Americas and the Caribbean," she said.
"Now is the time to expand into new markets," she told investors, while urging them to establish their manufacturing and distribution bases in Jamaica.
Information technology-based firm, Huawei, told Simpson Miller that it is prepared to increase its investment in Jamaica if the logistics hub becomes a reality.
"We would like to take Jamaica as our service and technical centre," Qu Wenchu, president of Huawei said.
future regional hub
China Communication and Construction Company has also said it intends to make Jamaica its regional hub.
Yang Xiong, the mayor of Shanghai, pledged to work closely with the Jamaican embassy in Beijing to secure investment in Jamaica.
"When it comes to investment, of course, we will encourage local investors to do business in Jamaica," the mayor said. He noted that the possibilities provided in logistics, information communication technology and tourism are endless, and said he would love to see a deepening of cooperation between Jamaica and China.
In the meantime, Simpson Miller said that outside of the logistics hub, there are opportunities for Chinese to lease lands in Jamaica's agro parks and to get involved in tourism.
"We are willing to work with Chinese investors interested in producing fish for exports from Jamaica to North America within a 24-hour cycle," she said.
The prime minster also branded the island as one which is an ideal base for the provision of data services and technical support in North America.
She said Jamaica has strong foundation and a trainable workforce, arguing that "at this time I do not believe there is a better place anywhere than investing in Jamaica now".
The prime minister, relying on the words of Bob Marley's One Love, told the investors, "Let's get together and feel alright".
Full Caption: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator A.J. Nicholson (seated) signs agreements with the government of China at the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital, Beijing, on August 21. In the background, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller converses with Premier of the People's Republic of China His Excellency Li Keqiang. Assisting the minister is Acting Director of the Bilateral Relations Department in the ministry, Deon Williams, and at left (partly hidden) is Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill. -JIS Photo