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Jamaica could be hub of trade with the West - PM

Published:Monday | February 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has told Chinese investors that his government wants to develop Jamaica as a hub for Chinese commerce and trade with the wider Central and South American countries.

"We are strategically located, sitting mid-point between North and South America. We have the seventh-largest natural harbour in the world and we have a port which we want to develop into an entire complex using the facilities for the trans-shipment, assembly and the break-bulking of goods that would come from China for markets in Central, South America and the Caribbean."

Golding, who was in Beijing, China, on an official visit earlier this month, started a series of meetings on February 2 to discuss new and existing investment opportunities between both countries. At his meeting with China's State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC), Golding said Jamaica was particularly interested in investments as distinct from loans to the country, as his government is pursuing a strategy to reduce Jamaica's high level of indebtedness.

"Many of the things that need to be done to stimulate development on a sustained basis can be done by private investments. Even where it has to be a state-sponsored project, it would generate its own internal returns to support the financing that would be required to make the investment possible," he said.

The prime minister said he welcomed the opportunities offered by the SDIC through its investment company, COMPLANT, for investments that have been to the mutual benefit of both countries.

The SDIC has become China's largest state-owned investment company and has two major business frameworks - one in the area of industrial investment and the other in financial services. COMPLANT, already a major investor in Jamaica through the construction of the Trelawny stadium and the Montego Bay Convention Centre, is now considering making additional investments in other areas.