KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC ? Jamaica is exploring the possibility of establishing closer trading links with China, President of the State-owned Jamaica Trade and Investment (JTI), Robert Gregory has said.
Gregory said that the government’s investment promotion agency is examining joint venture investment opportunities with their Chinese counterparts, particularly in the areas of textiles and tourism.
He said the matter was discussed at a Jamaica-China Business Dialogue here recently and attended by JTI officials, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), and representatives from the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).
The meeting followed a Caribbean-China Business Dialogue held in Barbados earlier this month and organised by the Barbados-based Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA).
Gregory said there had been ?good discussions” in Barbados and that in the area of textiles, the parties? explored partnerships incorporating West Indian Sea Island Cotton.
“We grow it here and export the lint to Europe, where they process it into the fine fabric that is input for our world class designers. However, China does that process of creating the fabric from the lint, far cheaper that what obtains in Europe. So we are very interested in partnering with China in this area.?
He said that the West Indian Sea Island Cotton would create a competitive advantage for Jamaican designs, and present the opportunity for valued-added products.
“It is quite possible to outsource the manufacturing to China and for us to control the lion’s share of the value, which is based in intellectual property and the marketing and distribution. So this possibility that we’re talking about, is very real to us,” Gregory stated.
Vitus Evans, the chief executive officer of the Jamaica Agricultural Development Foundation (JADF), which oversees the development of West Indian Sea Island Cotton locally, agreed with Gregory?s position.
?What we are hoping is that if there is an opportunity to enter into some joint arrangement with China to make the fabric we can enjoy the benefits of the production. There is undoubtedly a strong demand for West Indian Sea Island Cotton and we are satisfied that Jamaica has enough land and people to produce the cotton successfully,” he said.
. Evans said that with the renewal of friendly relations with Japanese interests following the legal battle over the over the West Indian Sea Island Cotton trademark, Jamaica would be in an excellent position to boost its level of production and resume export to that market.
Jamaica earned J$42.6 million (US$480,000) from cotton lint exports in 2008.
Speaking through an interpreter, Deputy Secretary-General of the China National Textile and Apparel Council, Xu Yingxin, hinted at the possibility of linking West Indian Sea Island Cotton interests with partners in Chinese.
“What we can do is iIntroduce West Indian Sea Island Cotton to Chinese textile companies and help you to promote (it) in China. If possible, I would like to invite Jamaica to organize a small group to visit China and introduce the product (there),” he said.
Gregory said Jamaica is also interested in capturing a significantly greater portion of the Chinese tourism market.
Figures show that the Asian country recorded some 48 million outbound tourists in 2008, with a spending power of US$6,000 per person.
“In order to get a little stimulation going, we are proposing that a Chinese hotel chain invest in building authentic hotels in Jamaica, so as to provide a familiar base for Chinese tourists to come to Jamaica.
?I think that this is something worth pursuing, and once we have that familiar base then airlift can be negotiated and we can spread out from there,” the JTI president said.
Other areas of mutual interest discussed at the meeting in Kingston, included: infrastructure and construction; manufacturing; and information and communications technology (ICT).