(Jamaica Gleaner) J. Wray and Nephew Limited is appealing to the Government to support its $1-billion makeover of the world-famous Appleton Rum Tour by re-establishing the old rail service and putting in a proper road from Montego Bay, St James, to its Siloah location in St Elizabeth.

"Critical to bringing people to this setting is the railway, this is our preferred form of mass transit," said chairman of the company, Clement 'Jimmy' Lawrence. "Having a railway brings an experience by itself. The rail lines, which has not been operational since the 1900s, travels between the estate and the dock from where passengers from the cruise ship arrives."

He continued, "The train would halve the travel time from the over three-hour bus ride and allow visitors to start the rum experience, while travelling to their destination. In the interim, however, it will be necessary for Government to improve the road conditions from Montego Bay to Appleton to make the journey more pleasant, ensuring that the tourist arrives unshaken."

The Appleton Rum Tour, which offered visitors an opportunity to get a first-hand view of sugar and rum production, is currently on hold to facilitate the rehabilitation work, which involves the upgrading of the existing facility and its expansion by another 25,000 square feet. On completion, the main building will include a welcome centre with a theatre, luxury bar, five-star restaurant and other amenities, which visitors can use before touring the estate's distillery and its rum-ageing warehouses.

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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — Britain's trade minister Liam Fox met with Mexican counterparts Thursday to lay the foundations for a post-Brexit trade deal, part of a global diplomatic offensive to smooth its departure from the European Union.

Fox announced Britain had launched an informal working group with Latin America's second-largest economy seeking to "ensure all the preferential arrangements that the UK currently enjoys with Mexico remain in place."

Britain is walking a delicate line as Brexit talks inch forward in Brussels.

It will be ousted from all EU trade deals when it leaves the bloc -- scheduled for March 2019.

But EU rules prohibit it from negotiating new deals until then.

In the meantime, top British cabinet ministers are engaged in a flurry of international diplomacy, seeking to set up new trade agreements with key partners without actually sealing any deals.

Fox's Mexico trip comes on the heels of a visit to the United States, where President Donald Trump this week hailed the prospect of a "very big" trade deal with Britain.

Foreign Minister Boris Johnson was meanwhile on a tour of the Asia-Pacific region, visiting Australia and New Zealand after a trip last week to Japan.

Fox insisted Brexit would make Britain more open to trade, not less.

"For the first time in more than four decades, the United Kingdom will enjoy a fully independent trade policy, free to build closer ties around the world with partners old and new," he told a breakfast meeting of business leaders in Mexico City.

"Any who are tempted to see our exit from the European Union as evidence of Britain looking inwards should think again. We have chosen a different path, to embrace the wider horizons of a truly global Britain in a truly global economy."

He said he and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, who held talks over dinner Wednesday, agreed on the need to champion free trade and "reverse a rising tide of protectionism."

Mexico is also keen to explore new trade relationships as talks loom on overhauling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada, a major driver of its economy for the past two decades.

Trump vows to tear up NAFTA -- which he says has shipped US jobs south of the border -- if the US does not get a better deal at the talks, which open on August 16.

Mexico's economy, which is second only to Brazil's in Latin America, relies heavily on its preferential access to the United States, the customer for 80 per cent of its exports.

 

 

 

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is providing grant funding of EUR219,000 or about J$2.86 million to the Jamaican government to upgrade the existing flood monitoring system on the Rio Cobre in St. Catherine.

 

The Bank, in a release out of Barbados, noted that the road through the Bog Walk Gorge in Jamaica is a major thoroughfare for vehicles travelling between the north and south coasts of the island.

 

However, at times it is rendered impassable due to heavy rainfall and flash flooding, and this puts persons in surrounding communities at risk.

 

An automatic flood early warning system was previously installed on the Rio Cobre River, which is interlinked by the Bog Walk Gorge, but it has been rendered inoperable due to lightning strikes that disabled the transmitters, the CDB said.

 

The Bank said funding is being provided through the African Caribbean Pacific-European Union-Caribbean Development Bank Natural Disaster Risk Management (ACP-EU-CDB NDRM) in CARIFORUM Countries Programme.

 

The CDB also noted that the Rio Cobre is the third largest watershed management unit in Jamaica, and includes large sections of Spanish Town and the fast growing municipality of Portmore.

 

“Flooding of the Rio Cobre puts a number of communities at risk and this project will help to support the delivery of accurate and early notifications to residents and key stakeholder groups such as motorists, the police, fire brigade and emergency response personnel,” said Cheryl Dixon, Coordinator, Environmental Sustainability Unit, CDB.

 

“We expect that this project will help to reduce the loss of life and reduce damage caused by flooding. The upgraded system will also take advantage of solar renewable energy to enable continued data and information during extreme weather events,” she added.

 

 

 

The project is scheduled to be completed over a 12-month period.

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(Dominica News Online) Come January 1, 2018, Dominicans earning less than $30,000 a year will not be paying income tax as the government moves to increase the minimum income tax threshold from $25,000 per year to $30,000.

Speaking during the presentation of the 2017/2018 Budget at the First Meeting of the Third Session of the Ninth Parliament on Thursday, Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit said the government will be directing a National Fiscal Policy Panel to consider and advise on the abolition of the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax bands in the next fiscal year.

He proposed the formation of the National Fiscal Policy Panel (NFPP) to be made up of three independent experts with outstanding international reputations to provide the Government, Parliament and the nation with independent economic advice on matters relating to tax and spending policy during this transformation. Part of its job will be to advise the Government on economic and fiscal policies.

According to Skerrit to achieve the bold vision enunciated in the presentation, the country must have a tax system that incentivizes employment over consumption and income over idle assets.

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Germany's BMW will make the electric version of its Mini compact cars at its factory in Oxford, England, a decision that comes at a time when automakers are scrutinising investment plans due to Britain's impending departure from the European Union.

 

BMW AG said Tuesday the battery-powered Mini would be based on the three-door model. Most of those are already made at the Oxford plant. The electric drivetrain is to be made in Germany at factories in Landshut and Dingolfing, Germany.

 

The company said it had neither sought nor received assurances that it would not be hit with border taxes when it ships parts to Britain. Currently, Britain enjoys tariff-free trade with the other 27 members. Britain's future trade relationship with the EU is uncertain and will be the topic of complex negotiations over the coming months, and possibly years. The two sides have until March 2019 to reach a new agreement, unless an extension is agreed.

 

BMW is pushing to include more electric vehicles in its line-up by offering hybrid and battery-only models of existing diesel and gasolene cars, on top of its i8 and i3 models designed as electric from the ground up. The entire industry is under pressure to come up with low-emissions cars to meet tighter government pollution standards, including the effort to limit greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

 

Company spokeswoman Emma Begley said the company had to make its decision based on the information currently available. "Based on what we know today, Oxford has the best business case," she said.

 

 

 

Britain Business Secretary Greg Clark called it a confirmation of the government's efforts to attract auto industry jobs and investment: "This landmark decision is a vote of confidence in the determination of our industrial strategy to make Britain the go-to place in the world for the next generation of vehicles."