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Shaw assures US that JA's relationship with China not geopolitical

Monday, November 18, 2019

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Senior Government Minister Audley Shaw on Saturday sought to assure the United States that Jamaica's relationship with the Republic of China is not geopolitical, but rather focused on trade.

“I think that there is some amount of misunderstanding that the Americans might have about our relationship with China. Our relationship with China is not a geopolitical relationship,” Shaw said in a keynote address to the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce and Industry Luncheon held on the grounds of the Falmouth Port.

“The Americans seem nervous at the fact that we are close with China. We can't understand their nervousness. I met with the ambassador yesterday (Friday) and I explained to him very carefully a very nice man by the way,” Shaw said.

His comments come after warnings from US Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia and Admiral Craig Faller, the top United States military official in the region, about Kingston's deepening relationship with Beijing.

Faller, at a recent news conference at the Jamaica Defence Force headquarters in St Andrew, said that China has legitimate economic interest in countries around the world, including Jamaica, but based on its model of government its role in other states could lead to a long-term loss of sovereignty, secrecy, and a lack of transparency in operations.

He further warned that the relationship with China could lead to non-adherence to international standards of the rule of law, breaches of labour rights, and a lack of protection of the environment.

But Shaw, the minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, stressed that Jamaica's ties with the Asian, communist nation, where he accompanied Prime Minister Andrew Holness on a recent visit, “is a relationship to improve business”.

“Right now we import a lot of things from China, but we hardly export anything to them. So when the prime minister and I went to China, it was an import show we went to. And the Government of China must be commended for having an import show to provide opportunities for countries like Jamaica to penetrate the Chinese market, which is 1.4 billion people, and they are growing at an average rate of eight per cent per year,” Shaw noted.

“So we are targeting them as a market for our coffee, for our rum, for our sauces, for our spices. We have now started selling them live lobsters,” he added.

Shaw was quick to point out that despite the trade war between China and America, both countries still have a solid business relationship.

“The two big boys are the traders, selling one to the other, so why can't little people like Jamaica also get in on the act to sell to the big boys? Nothing wrong with that. This is not about geopolitics, this is about trade and moving from poverty to prosperity,” Shaw said.


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