Representatives of the People’s Republic of China and Jamaica signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) paving the way for an Air Services Agreement (ASA) to be entered into with Jamaica at the Offices of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing on Tuesday, June 16.

Speaking at the Signing Ceremony, Head of the Chinese delegation, Mr.  Dong Zhiyi, Deputy Administrator, Civil Aviation Administration of China  said that Jamaica represented an area of intense interest for the Chinese. Citing the vast amount of infrastructural work being carried on in Jamaica by firms such as the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and the long period of friendship that has existed between the two countries, Mr Dong said that establishing air links with Jamaica would be a natural fit.

Continuing, Mr Dong noted that quite apart from investment opportunities, Jamaica is renowned the world over as a popular tourist destination and to that end, direct air links would enhance economic, social and cultural opportunities afforded by such an eventuality.

For his part, Hon.Noel Hylton, Chairman of Jamaica’s Air Policy Committee, who led the Jamaican delegation, said that Jamaica was ‘extremely pleased to embark on an opportunity which would provide immense benefits for all stakeholders.’ He said that having air links with the most populous country in the world would be a great boost to our tourism stock as well as enhancing bilateral ties between both countries.

Earlier, the Chinese delegation, accompanied by the Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica,  His Excellency Mr. Dong Xiaojun ,paid a courtesy call on Mrs. Audrey Sewell, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing. In welcoming the delegation to the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary chronicled the long bonds of friendship between the two countries, noting that the thrust to establish air links would only strengthen those bonds.

The Memorandum of Understanding  and the draft Air Services Agreement initialed, signal the conclusion of discussions, and is a precursor to the signing of the ASA in the near future. The meeting between the two delegations represents advancement on discussions and understandings reached from a similar meeting in Beijing, China in 2011 and follows on Jamaica’s Cabinet giving Approval in 2012 for the signing of the ASA.

Other entities involved in the talks, included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Tourism, the Jamaica Tourist Board, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority the Airports Authority of Jamaica,   the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and China well as other members of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing.

Mr Dong, Zhiyi, Mrs. Audrey Sewell, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing and Mr. Dong Xiaojun