Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, joined three other foreign ministers from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People???s Republic of China, Wang Yi.

During a wide-ranging discussion in the context of China???s relationship with CELAC, Senator McClean underlined the importance Barbados attached to its relationship with China which, by several measures, is now the world???s largest economy.

She welcomed the development of relations between China and the entire Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, noting that it could serve as a spur to further regional and sub-regional integration.

Foreign Minister Wang stated that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean were strong partners for China as it pursued its strategy of ???going global??? and developing relations in new areas. He said that China had set aside some US$38 billion in funds for projects in CELAC countries, including some US$3 billion exclusively for the Caribbean.

He further proposed an intensification of cooperation activities between China and CELAC, including in the area of business and educational and cultural exchanges. In this context, he announced that China had declared 2016 the year of China-CELAC cultural exchanges.

Minister McClean emphasised that the special circumstances of Barbados and other Caribbean states should be recognised, and expressed her appreciation for the fact that both China and CELAC were sensitive to these realities.

China and CELAC have established a cooperation mechanism which includes political dialogue between Heads of State and Government and the development and financing of projects in the Caribbean and Latin American region. Barbados is presently moving ahead with financing from China to redevelop Sam Lord???s Castle into a world-class resort on its southeast coast.

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