Jamaica Officials Speculate on Obama’s 2015 Visit, Say It Could Lead to Better Relations with U.S.

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Barack Obama's visit to Jamaica for Youth Forum
Barack Obama’s visit to Jamaica for Youth Forum

Professor Paul Golding, dean of the College of Business and Management at the University of Technology, is arguing that last year’s visit of United States President Barack Obama was motivated by the increasing reach of the Chinese in the Caribbean.

“Though unsaid, China’s presence and growing influence in the region was a primary reason for the visit,” he said.

Golding was one of the respondents in a Gleaner project that seeks to highlight the first anniversary of Obama’s visit to Jamaica.

“Jamaica’s geographic locations, which makes it an ideal trans-shipment port, and China’s interest in locating a logistics hub on Goat Islands, 90 miles from mainland USA, was also of prime interest,” he added.

According to Golding, having the attention of two superpowers is a winning situation for Jamaica.

While he conceded that the visit by Obama would result in significant direct long-term benefits for Jamaica, Golding has posited that, to date, the benefits have been tangential.

Describing Obama’s visit as an international rite of passage for Jamaica, adjunct professor of law at the University of Miami David Rowe, said: “President Obama’s visit reflects that Jamaica may be more important to the United States than Afghanistan or Iraq.”

Rowe echoed Golding’s sentiments and also argued that China’s heavy investment in Jamaica has created weakness in U.S.-Jamaica relations, a factor which underscored the visit.

“The weakness in U.S.-Jamaican relations created by the heavy investment by the Chinese in Jamaica sugar estates, roads and other infrastructure [is] an economic collaboration which has threatened to make the United States secondary to China as Jamaica’s chief business partner,” he said.

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