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PM says no new loans from China

Monday, November 11, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness, who returned to the island yesterday after an eight-day working visit to China, has said cooperation on infrastructure development with that country will continue, but without any new loan programmes.

Instead, infrastructure projects will take the modalities of joint venture partnerships, public/private partnerships, or private sector transactions directly between Jamaican firms and Chinese firms as the normal course of business, the prime minister said in a release from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) yesterday.

“Under the new cooperation framework, investments will be more strategic and focused on the development of special economic zones and logistics hubs, urban centre development, water and sewerage, agriculture, and affordable housing,” Holness said.

According to the prime minister, these areas are strategic for investments because they could be pursued on an open, profitable commercial basis, within fiscal incentives allowed by the law and without Government necessarily incurring more debt or having to take an equity stake.

He also noted that the areas were strategic because they aligned with the Government's objectives of stimulating growth, creating jobs, and building resilience in Jamaica's economy.

Besides exploring other areas of cooperation agreed upon under their new strategic framework, which also includes an agreement to focus efforts on increasing trade, particularly to encourage more Jamaican goods and services to be exported to the Chinese market, Jamaica's current cooperation framework with China was also reviewed. Holness had bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping in Shanghai and with Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

Prime Minister Holness welcomed China's willingness to open its markets to more goods coming from Jamaica other than bauxite, and the interest in investing in the Jamaican economy.

“This process has already begun with the export of live lobster into China and we are in the process of finalising the procedures with the Chinese authorities to allow for export of frozen lobster,” the prime minister said.

While reviewing the current framework of cooperation, the OPM release said the North-South Highway construction by China Harbour Engineering Company was highlighted along with Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company's purchase of the Alpart plant and mining rights as the two major Chinese investments in Jamaica. Infrastructure work completed and ongoing under loan cooperation programmes Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme, Major Infrastructure Development Programme and the South Coast Highway Improvement Project were also mentioned, the release said.

According to the OPM release, gratitude was expressed on behalf of the people of Jamaica for China's assistance in agreeing to construct a new state-of-the-art Western Children and Adolescent Hospital in St James, constructing two infant schools — one in St Andrew and the other in St Thomas — and the new headquarters building for Jamaica's Foreign Affairs Ministry in downtown Kingston.

In the meantime, the OPM release said other areas of greater cooperation under the strategic partnerships framework with China is education, sport and culture.

After their meeting, the release said Prime Minister Holness and Premier Li both expressed great satisfaction with the outcome of the engagements and the official visit, in general, reaffirming their commitment to a partnership of mutual respect and friendship.

“It was agreed that cooperation between the two sides would strategically connect opportunities with resources to achieve inclusive growth, meaningful job creation and lift our peoples out of poverty in an open, green and clean, as well as high-standard, sustainable and people-centred way,” the OPM release said.


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