Jamaica inks US$326-m loan agreement with China

Thursday, February 16, 2017

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Finance Minister Audley Shaw yesterday signed a US$326-million loan agreement with the China ExIM Bank for the new Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project and the extension of the tolled east-west highway from May Pen, Clarendon to Williamsfield, Manchester.

At the signing ceremony in the People’s Republic of China yesterday, the bank’s vice-chairman and president, Liu Liange, assured Shaw of the bank’s commitment to further support Jamaica in its economic development programme.

The southern coastal highway project is billed at approximately US$384 million, and will see the construction of a four-lane highway, which is expected to provide opportunities for employment and economic development for people in and around St Thomas and St Andrew when it starts. The Government will contribute US$57 million to the project.

Shaw, who left the island earlier this week with Minister of Transport and Works Michael Henry, Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz and a team of advisors, including chief technical advisor to the finance minister, Senator Aubyn Hill, also met with his Chinese counterpart, Xiao Jie, at the Ministry of Finance in Beijing, on Wednesday.

A release from the Ministry of Finance said both finance ministers agreed on the strategic importance of Jamaica in joint ventures for the development of industrial and agro-parks to service export markets in the western hemisphere.

The ministry said Shaw updated Xiao on the Jamaican economy and the status of Chinese investment projects in the country’s infrastructure development and briefed him on the increased activities since he met with his predecessor in China in 2011.

Minister Shaw noted that since then, Jamaica had progressed with the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme, the Major Infrastructure Development Programme of the last administration and the completion of the North-South Highway.

Shaw also met the China Vice Minister of Commerce Zhang Xiangchen. According to the release, a mutual agreement was reached to explore the possibility of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding to put in place mechanisms for the establishment of logistics, industrial and agro parks in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, the release stated that meetings were also held with Chairman of the China Development Bank Hu Huaibang on the financing of the North-South Highway and the financing of future investment projects.

"There were fruitful discussions with Mr Chen Chunming, head of Jiquan Iron and Steel (JISCO), on the reopening and development of ALPART and on the several opportunities that will flow, including agricultural development opportunities for small farmers in central Jamaica," the release said.

The minister and his team is expected to return to the island this weekend.




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