The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

Jamaica Gets Special Treatment from OPIC Mission

Spurred on by President Reagan's endorsements of private investment as the primary engine for foreign economic development, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) led a mission to Jamaica early this November, which provided an opportunity for 24 U.S. businessmen to discuss investment possibilities with Jamaican business leaders and officials. OPIC is a governmental agency which insures U.S. firms abroad. Although this was the fifteenth such mission sponsored by OPIC since it began operations in 1975, it is significant because it was "in response to the Caribbean basin [development] initiative that the Reagan administration has been talking about for months," according to OPIC spokesman Robert L. Jordan.

At the end of the mission, three U.S. firms signed agreements to invest in different projects; 11 others are in the final stages of negotiations. The three immediate projects include a $3 million loan from Citibank to Jamaica Broiler Limited to expand poultry production; a survey project to assess training needs of Jamaican businesses by Control Data Corporation, Grace Kennedy Company and Reynolds Metals; and a project with Precision Casting, financed by OPIC, to study the possibility of producing medical instruments in Jamaica. The other ventures are in the areas of agribusiness, food production, mineral extraction, tourism and the expansion of other existing operations.

Although the firms showing new interest in Jamaica are mainly small and medium sized, the 14 projects will result in American investment of $25-$30 million in the Jamaican economy over a short term. OPIC has also received other insurance and financing applications for investments in Jamaica. The Latin American Market Report of November 16 quoted Craig A. Nalen, president of OPIC, as having said, "If all these additional projects are finalized the volume of new private foreign investment in Jamaica would almost reach Prime Minister Edward Seaga's 3-year goal of $638 million."

In further support of Jamaica, the U.S. is considering buying surplus Jamaican bauxite for its "strategic mineral stockpile." The U.S. presently has nine million tons of Jamaican bauxite in its stockpile, and the stockpile has a goal of 21 million tons. Although the amount and terms of the purchase have not been officially determined, Jamaican industry sources believe the purchase amount may be 1 million metric tons - $41 million worth - per year.

- Kris Bergen

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