China Construction America (CCA) launched a campaign to expand in Latin America this week by opening a new regional headquarters in Panama City.
A subsidiary of state-owned behemoth China State Construction Engineering Corporation, CCA is seeking in-roads to the continent at a time when its flagship mega-resort in The Bahamas has been marred by delays and recriminations.
Headquartered in Jersey City, CCA opened an office in the US 30 years ago.
By bringing premium products and services to Panama and other Latin American countries, CCA stands poised to contribute to the region’s grand development plans– Ning Yuan, CCA President
Currently ranked 82nd in Engineering News-Record’s top 400 US contractors list, CCA has won projects in various eastern and southern American states, and says its revenue exceeded $1.7bn last year.
In a 29 April statement CCA said that approximately 300 guests from the public and private sectors attended the Panama HQ opening.
Guests included The Bahamas’ deputy prime minister, Philip E. Brave Davis, who congratulated CCA on its expansion into Panama, one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America over the past decade.Â
"This expansion evidences the fact that success comes only to those whose goals are so strong that obstacles act only as the investor," he said.
CCA President Ning Yuan called Panama’s economic growth a "remarkable endeavour". "
By bringing premium products and services to Panama and other Latin American countries, CCA stands poised to contribute to the region’s grand development plans," Ning said.
The statement made glowing mention of Baha Mar, CCA’s $3.5bn mega-resort and casino project currently underway in The Bahamas. CCA is the main contractor and has also invested $150m in the scheme, which will be the largest resort of its type in the Caribbean.
CCA said it has created thousands of jobs for Bahamian people and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for local businesses, but the project has been troubled.
Begun in 2011, it was originally due for completion in December 2014 but the opening date has receded and the resort is now not taking any bookings before July this year.
Baha Mar’s main developer, Baha Mar Ltd., has publicly expressed dissatisfaction with CCA.
Sarkis Izmirlian, the developer’s chairman and chief executive, told a business audience earlier this month that it was up to CCA to determine "how this next chapter" in Baha Mar’s history "will be written".
"Our general contractor needs to meet its assurances so we are in a position to properly open this world-class destination resort," he told Bahamian chambers of commerce on 16 April, according to local media.
He added: "We sincerely hope they [CCA] understand this, and are realising the discontent, and concerns, about their performance from numerous quarters, including us as owners, the Government of the Bahamas, and the people of the Bahamas."
This didn’t dampen the mood in Panama, however.Â
"Over the past 30 years, CCA has started from scratch and grown into a top player in the US market," said CCA’s Panama President, David Wang.
"Its emphasis on localisation and commitment to giving back to the communities have enabled it to adapt to the local market very quickly. CCA will adopt the same approach in Panama to benefit the local economy and people while realising its own ambition for the Panamanian market as well as the Latin American market at large."
Photograph: The Bahamas’ deputy prime minister, Philip E. Brave Davis, congratulated CCA on its expansion into Panama (CCA)