Francis Kennedy, president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, who was among a handful of private-sector players who made the trip, said fertile ground exists in China for Jamaica to cultivate worthwhile business ventures.
"There are a lot of things that we have to explore. I think they are too narrowly focused on only certain products. We have to broaden our horizon and not so narrowly focus on the export of coffee," Kennedy told The Gleaner.
He noted, however, that the absence of a free-trade agreement between the countries has frustrated the process.
"We have some obstacles to overcome. There are some non-tariff barriers on our exports, and what we need to do is identify what exports we want to send to China, smooth the way and eliminate all the barriers," Kennedy said.
Kennedy pointed, for example, at a shipment of coffee which has been sitting at the wharves in China for more than two months as a result of the non-tariff barriers. He, however, said focus must be placed on removing the obstacles.
"In the past, I have found that the private sector in Jamaica knows how to complain, but they don't know how to solve."
Similarly, businessman Jalil Dabdoub feels that there is an abundance of goodwill in China for Jamaica. He credits sprinter Usain Bolt and Simpson Miller for "opening the doors for Jamaica" and urged private sector interests to make use of the opportunity.
Wan Jifei, chairman of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, pointed to China's customs statistics, which showed that Jamaica became the largest trade partner of China among the English-speaking Caribbean countries in 2012, based on a trade volume of US$820 million, up by 117.9 per cent over the previous year.
China's import from Jamaica went up dramatically by 672.8 per cent in 2012.
- Daraine Luton