BY ALEXIS MONTEITH Observer writer Sunday, April 21, 2019
As Jamaica signed on to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on April 11, a report to the American Congress entitled 'China's Engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean' sought to examine the implications of growing Chinese influence in the region.
|Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade|
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith (left), and Chinese
Ambassador to Jamaica Tian Qi (right)
exchange the signed agreements
The BRI is an initiative that advances international development cooperation between China and its partners to build up connectivity and ensure benefits to all parties linked within its framework. By signing a memorandum of understanding for the BRI, Jamaica joins several other countries in the region including Barbados, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Guyana, the Dominican Republic and others — who have already done so.
|A view of the Mandela Highway near Kingston.|
The report to the American Congress on Chinese influence was put together by the Congressional Research Service, and it suggests that China's regional objectives over the past several years have been aimed towards securing access to raw materials and agricultural goods while opening up new markets for Chinese products. China, it reveals, is partnering with Latin American firms to access and advance technology, and has “sought to secure investment opportunities in Latin America for its infrastructure firms and to reduce excess capacity in steel, cement, and other related commodities”.
The report notes that in the period 2005 to 2018 accumulated loans to the region from the China Development Bank and China Eximbank have amounted to more than US$140 billion. Of that amount, Jamaica has received US$2.1 billion...Six countries have received more financing than Jamaica and they include Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago and Bolivia.
Venezuela tops the list with US$67.2 billion, mostly from loans-for-oil deals.
Jamaica's Caricom partner, Trinidad and Tobago, received US$2.6 billion during the same period. more