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,” he said.
The visiting Chinese government official said Beijing also wanted to discuss and sign a protection agreement with the Caribbean to promote two way investment.
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.
The forum is being attended also by government officials from a number of Caribbean countries and in the case of Antigua and Barbuda,
Prime Minister Spencer held bilateral discussions with the Chinese Vice Premier on further cooperation between the two countries.
In addition, Finance Minister Harold Lovell will sign a 30 Million RMB Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement for the implementation of projects agreed to between both countries as well as a 28.5 Million RMB loan for the construction of a Sub-station for the Chinese power plant.
The two-day meeting will also include a seminar on China – Caribbean Cooperation in Finance and Infrastructure which will be addressed by Lovell who is expected to highlight trade cooperation arrangements between the Caribbean and China.