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Jamaica sings new tune for high economic growth

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

03-06-2017 10:18 BJT

By Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview Opinion Page commentator and editor

For many Westerners, the word, “Jamaica,” conveys images of the late great reggae singer, Bob Marley, as they seek an answer to “Who shot the sheriff?”

Yes, Marley deserves recognition as a cool iconic figure for the Caribbean island, but that’s dismissing the hard-working character of Jamaicans, while overlooking amazing trade and investments deals there.

Jamaica holds an abundance of natural resources and is ideally situated to connect the vibrant markets of North America with Latin-America. The island touts deep shipping ports to facilitate a large bulk of international trade.

Jamaican Finance Minister Audley Shaw visited China last month and joined by a delegation of senior business and government officials.

He highlighted the nation’s golden opportunities for Chinese investors during an exclusive interview with CCTV.com Panview Opinion page editor-in-chief, Li Shou’en.

 Audley Shaw and Li Shou’en during interview (photo/ Qian Ding)

Export hub for West

“With the establishment of a logistics highway in Kingston (Jamaica’s capital city),” said Shaw. “We want to build out industrial parks, logistics centers and business parks.”

He added, “We would like to set up assembly plants for the transshipment of goods for North America, for Central and South America - the opportunities are magnificent.”

Kingston has introduced free market reforms, such as cutting taxes and improving vocational technical education programs, to lure in more foreign direct investments, especially from China.

The Chinese engineering firm, China Harbour, has already completed construction of the North-South Highway in Jamaica and will soon build another highway in the island’s southeast corridor.

By expanding highways, the nation’s manufacturing bases can be more closely connected to shipping ports surrounding the island.

Tax cuts boost productivity

Jamaica wants to improve its business climate by enacting favorable measures to support businesses and taxpayers, while moving forward on significant upgrades of ports, transportation routes and industrial zones.

“We (Jamaica) have to increase the levels of productivity of each individual worker, we have to relook at our training programs, we have to relook at our tax policies,” said Shaw. “Make sure we leave more money in the hands of our workers, so they’re happier and therefore more productive.”

He added, “Our new government had already sharply increased the minimum threshold for people to pay income taxes. We gave back more money to the lower level paid workers, so they have more disposable income.”

Kingston expects Jamaican workers to increase productivity in exchange for lower taxes.

Additionally, consumers spend more with rising disposable incomes. Lower taxes also encourage Jamaicans to invest in their nation.

Pushing soaring growth rates

Despite efforts to pump up GDP (gross domestic product) annual growth rates, Jamaica struggles with a sluggish economy.

Nevertheless, Shaw explained that prosperity for all Jamaicans “will not happen overnight.”

Kingston has re-adjusted its macro-economic policies to maintain social stability while ensuring healthy foreign exchange reserves and private/public debt levels.

Jamaica is in the right projection path to meet the 2% GDP growth target this year and is expected to witness 5% growth four years later.

“Our government (Kingston) is on the path of emphasizing growth, emphasizing economic development, emphasizing the development of our people,” Shaw said.

Jamaica has observed China’s rapid development, which appears to have shed a light on the right approach to improve a people’s living standards by focusing on education.

Accordingly, Jamaica’s Education Ministry has announced plans to increase funding and upgrade vocational technical education programs to create a more innovative and hi-tech skills-oriented Jamaican workforce.

Win-win on global cooperation

Although some sovereign governments are moving inward with trade protectionist policies, Kingston remains firm on working with China and the world to enhance economic cooperation that bring mutual benefits for all.

Jamaica stands poised to embark on a strong sustainable development mode that would allow the Caribbean island to enter a new era of high economic growth.

The strategy is to make Jamaica a trading hub for the North and South America markets, while boosting more trade with Europe and Asia, as well as with Africa markets via South-South cooperation.

If Jamaica succeeds, so will the world.

      Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview Opinion Page commentator and editor


(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration. 

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