DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER,
The region is set to benefit from millions of dollars in assistance over a three-year period from Beijing, China.
This was stated earlier today, by China’s Vice Premier, Madame Wu Yi, at the Second China-Caribbean Business Conference, which is continuing in the coastal town, Xiamen, China.
Madame Wu, told those gathered at the meeting that she saw the current relationship between China and the Caribbean as one with huge potential and a bright prospect.
“In recent years, Caribbean countries have done a lot to improve the standard of living, however, there are still some difficulties in achieving this. China is not a wealthy country but will continue to provide to the Caribbean, without any political agenda. We hope our efforts are fully supported,” she said.
Noting that Beijing would soon be sending delegations to the region to carry out inspections on trade and investment in the Caribbean, she outlined several initiatives, which in her opinion, should foster an even stronger cooperation between China and the Caribbean.
“Ultimately, my country intends to work at improving trade conditions and the balance in trade; to provide financial support and promote investment cooperation; implement tourism agreements with Caribbean countries and push for a memorandum of understanding on tourism cooperation,” Vice Premier Wu said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs and Development, Mia Mottley, who addressed the business conference, welcomed the Vice Premier’s commitment and noted that “the relationship between China and the Caribbean is one of particular value and importance to us in the region. We view it as integral to our international partnership through which we try to reach the world”.
Minister Mottley said that Caribbean people could confidently assert that their diplomatic relations with China had resulted in more concrete assistance than they had received in their modern independence period from many of the other countries with which they had longer diplomatic relations.
“Whether it is in the context of the markets provided throughout the region, stadiums that many of our governments would have been unable to afford to construct or the concrete assistance given in agriculture, … grants or concessional loans, China has continued to recognise the critical importance of development assistance to countries that are essentially small and vulnerable states which are subject to international economic shock,” she said.
Several Caribbean Government ministers also addressed today’s plenary conference. Representatives were from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Also in attendance was Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Lolita Applewhaite, who shared CARICOM’s view of the China-Caribbean cooperation and noted that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), was established to achieve similar results. She thanked China for its assistance in making elements of the CSME become a reality.
“An important provision in the treaty of Chaguaramas, which governs the Caribbean communities, is the establishment of the CARICOM Development Fund. This fund will assist disadvantaged regions, countries and sectors in the community, and is critical in ensuring equitable development in the Community.
… I am therefore happy to thank the government of China on behalf of the region for its pledge of support for the fund and its active consideration of financing for it,” Ms. Applewhaite said.
The business forum continues tomorrow, Saturday, September 8, with the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT).