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Jamaica, China sign four agreements

Construction of Tower Hill and Morant Estate infant schools among deal

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant business coordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 22, 2013    

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BEIJING, China — The governments of Jamaica and China yesterday signed four agreements, among which will see the Asian superpower providing the island with billions of dollars in grants and loans to facilitate infrastructure development.

The signing followed an official welcome ceremony for Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, and reaffirmed the growing ties between Jamaica and the communist country, which is now the island's biggest trading partner.

"It is really a pleasure for us to be here and I want to thank you, on behalf of the delegation, for the warmth and hospitality we have received since being here," Simpson Miller told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the ceremony.

The Jamaican leader, who is on a five-day official visit to China, was given the red carpet welcome and a gun salute.

The signed agreements include a preferential loan deal with the China Exim Bank for the US$353-million three-year Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP), though it was not immediately clear how much funds will be disbursed.

There is also a100 million Renminibi Yuan ($1.6 billion) grant aid from China to Jamaica that will be used for projects to be mutually agreed upon through consultations between both countries. Detailed accounting procedures for the disbursement of funds will be handled between the Ministry of Finance and the China Development Bank.

China has also agreed to assist the Government of Jamaica in constructing the Tower Hill Infant School in Kingston and Morant Estate Infant School in St Thomas. The Chinese will be responsible for the design of the project, supplying the necessary machine and equipment, and dispatching the necessary number of Chinese technical personel to Jamaica to organise construction.

What's more is that China has agreed to dispatch a technical group to Jamaica for feasibility study on a teaching building project at the Confucius Institute on the Mona Campus, University of the West Indies.

Simpson Miller yesterday lauded the 40 years of diplomatic relations between China and Jamaica, noting that the island was a supporter of the country even when it "was not fashionable".

The Chinese have rapidly expanded their economic footprint in Jamaica over the last decade with billions of dollars in foreign direct investment to the island.

Simpson Miller earlier met with representatives of Complant and China Harbour Engineering Company, two Chinese companies that have invested heavily on the island.

She is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as the China Development Bank today.

Simpson Miller's delegation includes Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister AJ Nicholson; Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill; and Dr Carlton Davis, special envoy and chief advisor.

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