From the UK, I read with growing interest the development of "negotiations" between the Government of Jamaica and the Chinese representatives of CHEC. Of course, we are not hearing the full details yet. But with all due respect to the relevant officials, I am not imbued with any confidence for an optimal outcome for my country Jamaica.
I am reminded of the sell-out of the Air Jamaica London, Heathrow, landing slots for pittance by a previous Government. But these discussions are of a different order of magnitude.
What is being played out here -- regarding Goat Islands, an international logistics hub, etc -- is hugely important, strategically and commercially for Jamaica's future, economy and position in the world. You will only get in life what you can negotiate. So what are those representing Jamaica doing in this regard?
When one negotiates it's best to know both your own position (strengths and weaknesses) and know the position of the other party (their motivating factors, circumstances, short and long-term objectives, etc.). Are we doing well on either account? Do we in Jamaica know what we want as priorities and how to achieve it? What is sacrosanct to us? Do we have a number of options to bring into play?
Negotiations are strengthened when you have more than one suitor, for example. Even if there is only one suitor, can we propose several counter-offers which sell the desired benefitsof the other party, yet has built-in benefits to our advantage. Have we done our homework and got the vision or imagination to operate in this manner?
As the good book says: "Without a vision the people perish." And do we know with whom we are negotiating? What is their experience in other places of the world where they have operated, or continue to operate? What is the broader context of their purpose? How important is the Jamaican option to them? Who is their competition? How do they view success? What are their values?
I suspect we underestimate our position of strength in this ongoing transaction. What is occurring now is part of a bigger geo-political restructuring and the beginnings of an economic seismic shift in maritime trade and logistics sector. This sector is in for dramatic transformation in the Western Hemisphere in the coming decade and Jamaica is well positioned geographically to benefit from it.
But, is Jamaica well positioned otherwise to capitalise on it? Time will tell. In the meantime, however, try to negotiate from a position of strength. Have a united team, be creative, seek alliances, understand cross-cultural issues, gather market intelligence, build trusting and respectful relationships, etc. In the ends it is all about relating to people -- your own and others.