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Wednesday May 3, 2006

Malaysia and Jamaica looking at major deals


By WONG CHUN WAI in KINGSTON, JAMAICA 

Offshore oil exploration, more liquefied natural gas supplies and major construction works in Jamaica are among the potential major deals clinched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his two-day visit here. 

The Caribbean country agreed to explore petroleum exploration, in the face of increasing energy cost it faced, with Petronas.  

It also agreed to carry out follow-up talks with Malaysia following Abdullah’s interest in providing construction services to Jamaica, particularly in the area of low-cost housing.  

Abdullah said Malaysia had worked well with Jamaica in building a 230km highway project linking Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, and Montego Bay, the tourist beach belt.  

"We hope other Malaysian companies will have other opportunities to participate in the development of Jamaica’s economy especially in the tourism industry, road construction, housing and other infrastructure development," he said at an official dinner hosted by his counterpart Portia Simpson Miller here on Tuesday evening.  

During the bilateral talks between both sides earlier, the Jamaican Prime Minister said opportunities had also been identified especially in sports and agriculture.  

She said Abdullah and her attached importance to the critical role of sports, adding that the areas included track and field, netball and badminton, which Malaysia excelled.  

Abdullah said Malaysia also explored the possibilities of getting its nurses to be trained here. Malaysia has also sought places at the medical faculty of the University of West Indies here.  

Its medical degrees are recognised by the Malaysian Medical Council and the university also uses English as a medium of instruction.  

The two leaders, in a joint statement, also said both sides had agreed to expedite the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in education.  

In the field of agriculture, they agreed that Jamaica could benefit from collaboration with Malaysia in the area of coconut growing, especially in fighting the lethal yellowing disease on coconut trees.  

"Such collaboration would include the procurement of germ plasma from Malaysia for Jamaica’s coconut replanting," Simpson said.  

Abdullah also said Malaysia could be the gateway to Asean, with a combined population of over 500mil people, while Jamaica could become the hub for Malaysian exports to the Caribbean.  

Abdullah was accompanied by Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed and Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman.

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