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China announces US$1 billion Caribbean initiative

Monday, September 12, 2011 | 2:28 PM    

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The two-day China Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum opened here on today with China announcing that it would pump millions of dollars in assistance to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China, Wang Qishan told the opening ceremony attended by a number of Caribbean leaders including Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding, his Antigua and Barbuda counterpart Baldwin Spencer and the Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo, that Beijing would provide funds for six initiatives aimed at boosting relations between the two regions.

“China will provide one billion US dollars in loans and preferential nature to the Caribbean countries in support of local economic development,” he said.

“China encourages exchanges and cooperation between the commercial banks of the two sides. The China Development Bank will put aside one billion US dollars to be used as special commercial loans for infrastructural development.”

The visiting Chinese government official said Beijing also wanted to discuss and sign a protection agreement with the Caribbean to promote two way investments.

He also announced that China would provide one million USA dollars to the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF) in addition “to providing no less than 2,500 training opportunities for Caribbean countries and 30 opportunities with Masters Degrees for Caribbean professionals to study in China”.

He said China would also help the in-house capabilities of Caribbean countries fight natural disasters and that Beijing would provide support in the building of seismic and tsunami early warning and monitoring networks.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar told Wang and the visiting Chinese delegation that the Caribbean is an ideal location for investment.

“Ours is a region replete with opportunities and an enabling investment environment. Indeed you will find that not only is our all year round weather ideal, but our investment climate is perfect as well.”

She said that the “synergies that exist between our Caribbean territories offer a collaborative investment potential that is well worth exploring. In Trinidad and Tobago as indeed in many other Caribbean nations there has been a dramatic shift in the way we conduct business as governments,” she said urging the visitors to recognise the potential of the region.

The two-day forum is being held under the theme “Development Co-operation: Win for All” and officials here promise it will build upon the successes of the first two forums held in Jamaica and China in 2005 and 2007 respectively.

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