Jamaica and China sign multi-million dollar loan agreement

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb 17, CMC – Jamaica has signed a US$326 million loan with China for the construction of a new Southern Coastal Highway Improvement project and the extension of the tolled east-west highway from May Pen, Clarendon to Williamsfield, Manchester.
Finance Minister Audley Shaw signed the agreement with the China ExIM Bank’s vice-chairman and president, Liu Liange on Thursday, according to a statement released here.
It said the  southern coastal highway project is billed at approximately US$384 million, and will allow for 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.
Jamaica will contribute US$57 million to the project.
Shaw, who left here earlier this week  at the head of a delegation that included the Minister of Transport and Works Michael Henry, Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz, met with his Chinese counterpart, Xiao Jie, 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.
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 and a statement issued afterwards noted that 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.

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