By Elaine Hartman Reckord
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, and minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, will head Jamaica’s delegation to next month’s China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
Speaking at the recent Jamaica-China Friendship Association banquet at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, Senator Johnson Smith said Jamaica was invited to participate as a “Guest Country of Honour”.
She said the event presents an opportunity “to showcase what Jamaica has to offer as a trade and investment destination, and partner in the area of commercial relations”.
“We will use the visit to engage targeted stakeholders on prospective partnerships that can support [the] quest to build the new Jamaica that our people want,” the minister said. Meanwhile, prime minister Holness has indicated that “I am looking forward to my visit to China”.
Speaking at a recent ceremony at Jamaica House, which was attended by China’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Tian Qi, Holness said “I have been looking forward to this visit for some time”, adding that he and, by extension, the government anticipate that it will serve to “further strengthen and expand our cooperative relationship”.
Senator praised the Jamaica-China Friendship Association for their role in enhancing bilateral relations between the countries for more than four decades. “The breadth and depth of inter-connectedness that you have fostered between the two countries must be highly commended,” she said, noting that the engagements have added value to the quality of the relationship.
Senator Smith also highlighted plans by the association to spearhead an upcoming public seminar, in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy in Jamaica, on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), said the BRI, a new model of international cooperation, aligns well with Jamaica’s priorities and aspirations for inclusive and sustained economic growth.
“We, therefore, very much welcome the opportunity that the seminar will provide to allow the Jamaican public and private sectors, as well as civil society, to better appreciate the role that the BRI can play as a major pillar for development cooperation between Jamaica and China,” Senator Smith said.
In related developments, a new building in downtown Kingston to house the offices of the ministry of foreign affairs and foreign trade was formally handed over to the government at a ceremony, held October 16.
The new building comprising 11,700 square metres; 11-storey structure consists of a two-storey annex building, a generator room, boundary wall and parking area, built by the Jiangsu Jiangdu Construction Group Co. Limited, of China.
Speaking at the ceremony, ambassador Tian Qi said the new building is a testimony of the good relations and friendship between Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China. He said that he is happy to share in the excitement and “to witness the historical moments of moving into the building. I share the same exciting moments with you,” he said, adding that the Embassy will support the work of the ministry.
“Jamaica foreign affairs, you are into a new era and I can assure you that the Chinese Embassy and the staff here will always be with you, to work together to promote our relations to a higher level, to promote our common interests and to serve our people better,” he said.
In her remarks, Senator Smith said the new building is an important outcome of China’s commitment to support Jamaica’s economic growth and development.
“This new foreign ministry building represents a major symbol of the long-standing bonds of friendship and cooperation between Jamaica and China. This strategic development partnership forged in construction of this new facility, showcases the win-win nature of Jamaica-China partnership,” she added. “The expanded facilities will enhance the ministry’s operations in the pursuit of Jamaica’s international relations.
“We will certainly have a more welcoming environment in receiving our bilateral and international partners and to host meetings and consultations with both public-sector agencies and members of the private sector,” the minister said.
Senator Smith said that staff members of the ministry are also “excited” to be a part of the modernisation of downtown with its prospects for more innovations, growth and job creation.
“The process of redevelopment of downtown Kingston will undoubtedly be buttressed further with the relocation of the ministry to this the very heart of the city,” she said.