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Jamaica Sets 5% Growth Goal as China Pumps Billions Into Economy

Sep 18, 2018

Jamaica’s government sees economic growth accelerating in the coming years as China dumps billions of dollars into the Caribbean nation to expand metal and energy production.

Economic growth will accelerate to 5 percent by 2020, Audley Shaw, the island’s minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, said in an interview Monday. China’s Jiuquan Iron & Steel (Group) Co. Ltd. plans to
invest $6 billion over five years, boosting aluminum production at its Alpart refinery to 3.6 million metric tons annually from 1.6 million now and build a 1,000 megawatt LNG plant. The group will also build an agro-industrial park and a separate park for non-agricultural products, said Shaw, a former finance minister. Jamaica’s economy expanded 1.8 percent last year and will grow between 2 percent to 2.5 percent this year, he said. "It’s the largest single investment Jamaica will have ever had," he said in an interview from New York, where he will open an investment promotion office. "Economic growth in Jamaica for too long has been at the lower end. We are gradually going in the right direction."

‘Unique’ Location

The island nation is looking to promote its location in the Caribbean and is expanding port facilities and highways in an
effort to capitalize on larger ships traveling through an expanded Panama Canal. France’s CMA CGM group has begun dredging ports and the government is seeking investors to turn Vernam Field, a former U.S. Air Force base, into a logistics hub for cargo planes with a seaport at nearby Jackson Bay. "If you look at Jamaica’s history, our location is quite unique," he said. "The pirates thought so hundreds of years ago. We are excellently positioned to have a very modern and vibrant shipping and logistics industry."

Unemployment has fallen over the past two years to 9.5 percent from over 13 percent, Shaw said, as the economy added 60,000 net jobs. The new investments in infrastructure and plans to expand the country’s agriculture sector will help cut joblessness further, he said. "There are a wide range of investment opportunities in Jamaica,” he said. “We welcome companies that might be able to come."

Tuesday 18 September, 2018


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