Clarke welcomes Chinese investment in Jamaica

Encourages companies to stand on 5 pillars for mutual benefit

Observer writer

Friday, March 08, 2019

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AT the recent launch of the Association of Chinese Enterprises in Jamaica (ACEJ), Minister of Finance Nigel Clarke celebrated the long-standing relationship Jamaica has had with China.

The minister commented that Jamaica is now in a time of “great opportunity” and growth. However, to further develop and continue this growth, he noted that foreign direct investment is necessary and welcomed, and he outlined five ways to ensure its benefit to all.

He shared, “In a time of great opportunity, what we want to translate this into gains for the Jamaican people — the Jamaican economy — is continued investment, domestically from the Jamaican people and investment from foreign enterprises. And it is in that context I say that foreign investment from Chinese companies is welcomed to Jamaica.

“We want investment to be in a win-win complex. Where investors win, customers win, employees win, the Jamaican people win and the Jamaican economy wins,” he continued.

The five pillars, he said, will help to ensure this he believes, are – competition, domestic value, training, technology transfer and corporate social responsibility.

In the first of his five pillars, he noted the importance of competition and a competitive environment for all to benefit.

“We want to ensure that corporations in Jamaica are characterised by competitiveness — where competition drives great deals for consumers and stakeholders. Competition means that the prices that customers and stakeholders receive has the best chance of being the best price possible,” Minister Clarke noted.

Next, was the significance of domestic value added and he highlighted that though it may not be evident at the onset, over time it should grow.

“It may not be so in the beginning, but over time, where there is space and room for the domestic value component of foreign direct investment, in Jamaica to be enlarged, we want that to happen. I want to encourage the Chinese enterprises operating here to consider this in their investment. Where the opportunity exists to incorporate domestic content in the production of the service or the good that you are offering in Jamaica, we want you to be encouraged to include that domestic content,” he explained, as this is how the Jamaican economy will prosper.

“So the opportunity will exist to backward integrate,” he continued. “Things that you used to import from China, maybe, you could start to make them here one by one and we deepen the level of Chinese investment and we deepen the domestic value content to Jamaica to the benefit of yourselves and the Jamaican people,” he stated.

Thirdly, the minister shared the importance of training and skills development. He encouraged the Chinese enterprises present to endeavour that their investments are paired with the requisite training for locals.

“We want to ensure that opportunities within your companies open up over time for the skilled Jamaican professionals and managers and skilled Jamaican workers to have more and more opportunity to participate in the economic activity that you are conducting here in Jamaica. That is win-win.”

He commended Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) which currently has more than 40 Jamaican engineers being trained in China, in preparation for their local expansion.

His fourth pillar was that of technology transfer. He noted that China's emerging role as one of the most technologically advanced countries worldwide, gives Jamaica an opportunity to benefit from the transference of such technology processing and equipment development skills.

Minister Clarke explained, “That is the beauty of foreign direct investment. Foreign direct investment brings skills and allows for training upgrade and allows for the transfer of technology to take place and we would like your continued investment in Jamaica to be characterised by technology transfer. Jamaica can benefit. We want technology to be a part of your investment in Jamaica.”

He also addressed the importance of corporate responsibility, something all companies, both domestic and international, should aim for. He asserted that there is still room in this sector for helping the marginalised and vulnerable which should not be overlooked.

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