My comparative politics skills are rusty, so I won’t go down that route, but these figures even just on their own are staggering. China owns almost half of Jamaica’s foreign debt, as the Gleaner headline puts it. By the numbers, Jamaica’s is indebted to foreign countries by $53.9 billion (roughly $465 million US). To China, Jamaica owes about $24.7 billion JMD. Of course countries holding foreign debt is nothing new, but the scope of China’s dominance around the island is quite shocking.
The Chinese are building roads, stadiums, housing and general infrastructure. You see the workers and engineers populating these sites across the island. You see how quickly the roads are completed, and how new and clean they are. And you wonder, what does this mean for Jamaica’s future? How long will this infrastructure last? How can Jamaica pay off its debts? For background, Jamaica entered into $400 million agreement with the Export Import Bank of China for road infrastructure in 2009.
Jamaica’s total debt is $1.85 trillion, $801.5 billion of which is external debt.