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Jamaica's Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Aubyn Hill.

Curtis Williams

Montego Bay Jamaica

[email protected]

The signing of an agreement to form a global alliance of special economic zones must be about creating jobs and putting money into the pockets of ordinary citizens says Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Aubyn Hill.

Speaking here at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Hill said the new orgsnisation will bring together 7000 special economic zones worldwide, including 1000 that will be science and innovation hubs.

Hill noted that the challenges facing the world have increased with the covid 19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine and it has added the need for greater nearshoring, renewable energy and changes in the way trade takes place.

He predicted that Trade agreements were more likely to be difficult to achieve and this will open opportunities for free zones around the world.

The signing comes mere days after China’s Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Fang Qiu confirmed two Chinese companies will become tenants at the Phoenix Park Industrial Estate, one of T&T’s special economic zones .

The Chinese Ambassador took to social media to announce the news of the deal, which he said would be a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

He said, “Glad to know that two Chinese companies have signed the letters of offer with eTecK and will be tenants at Phoenix Park Industrial Estate (PPIE). PPIE is the first project in the Caribbean region to be implemented under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and it will serve as a vital platform for enhancing practical co-operation between China and T&T.”

The Chinese Ambassador continued, “These two major light industry companies have confirmed their investment at PPIE, which will undoubtedly result in the creation of more jobs, an increase in manufactured goods exports, and a boost to T&T’s economic development.”

He closed, “I believe that with the two governments’ co-operation, PPIE will be completed in the near future and will attract more companies to establish operations at PPIE!”

Hill defended the concept of free zones saying they create jobs and while the detractors talk about poor paying jobs, high turn over and loss of government revenue, that is perpetuated by people who write in the media and who are unaware that a job is better than none and that many use their free zone jobs to upscale themselves and become managers and major players in their companies.

He told Guardian Media that governments earn revenue from the taxes paid by employees and the increase in commerce and economic activity.

“We prefer to have a slice of a large pie than an entire small grape” Hill told Guardian Media.

Hill also insisted that the Caribbean has an opportunity to create greater trade due to the need for shorter supply chains