Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, today signed an Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, on behalf of Government, with the People’s Republic of China, to release over BDS$17 million worth of grant funding.
During a brief signing ceremony at the ministry’s headquarters on Culloden Road, St. Michael, Minister Husbands said the funds would be used to advance on-going bilateral projects in the areas of education and agriculture.
She noted that the two projects, the Hope Agricultural Training Institute and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship, represent a convergence of education and agriculture, two critical areas for the development of Barbados.
Stating that this makes the assistance from China “all the more meaningful”, she said: “It serves as a demonstration of the close relations between our two countries. The Government of Barbados is very appreciative of the continued, kind cooperation of the People’s Republic of China in a wide-range of areas.”
The Foreign Trade Minister added that the Hope Agricultural Training Institute would be a partial training ground for students pursing associate degrees, diplomas and certificates at the Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology.
Additionally, the centre will focus on encouraging and facilitating innovation in Caribbean agri-business and food production. One key goal of the centre will be to find new and creative uses for local and regional plants.
The minister said Hope Agricultural Training Institute and the Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship represent the largest cooperation initiative between Barbados and China in the area of agriculture.
“Over the years, Barbados and China have enjoyed friendly and cooperative relations, which have encompassed technical and financial initiatives and people-to-people exchanges in a number of areas, including education, culture and trade.
“In the area of education, Barbados has also benefited from scholarships, training seminars and the donation of educational equipment. We continue to be appreciative of the support which has been demonstrated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China,” the Foreign Trade Minister underscored.
China’s Ambassador to Barbados, Yan Xiusheng, stated that since the two nations established diplomatic relations 42 years ago, the relationship has been “healthy and stable”.
He said: “As a developing country, within the framework of south-south cooperation, China has provided many grants to assist the social and economic development of Barbados, based on equality and mutual benefit without attaching any political conditions.
Ambassador Yan added that the projects would be beneficial to Barbadians.
“The two agricultural projects can promote the FEED programme, enhance Barbados’ independent agricultural development and further promote cooperation in education, agriculture and technology.”
The Chinese envoy also noted that Barbados had signed on to the Belt and Road Initiative in February 2019.
“The Belt and Road Initiative is celebrated as a resounding call for advancing and re-balancing globalization, forging a new pathway toward inclusive globalization that delivers widely shared benefits.
“Under the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, China stands ready to work closely with Barbados to further deepen our pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road and south-south cooperation, in areas such as infrastructure, renewable energy, modern agriculture, culture, and healthcare to promote the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan,” Ambassador Yan said.
Barbados and China established diplomatic relations on May 30, 1977.