China dangles $1 bn to woo the Caribbean

September 14th, 2011 - 1:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Port-of-Spain, Sep 14 (IANS) China opened its purse-strings wide to fork out a $1 billion loan for governments in the Caribbean that has a strong Indian presence since the past 150 years. “The world needs China for its development,” said a top Chinese official who led a jumbo-sized delegation.

China chose to unveil a slew of measures in the oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago where Indians account for 44 percent of the country’s 1.3 million people.

The Chinese delegation included 13 ministers and 80 high-level Chinese business officials.

China’s Vice-Premier Wang Qishan said: “China cannot develop itself in isolation of the world and the world needs China for its development. The comprehensive economic and social development in China will not only benefit the Chinese people but also bring opportunities to the Caribbean and the larger world.”

He was attending the Sep 12-13, China-CARICOM Economic and Trade Co-operation, when he spoke of the measures for the region, including an approximate $1 billion loan to several regional governments.

Several Caribbean leaders including Guyana’s President Bharat Jagdeo, Antigua/Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding, Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, and the host Prime Minsiter Kamla Persad-Bissessar were present.

Wang said that China was committed to the path of peaceful development.

“We will, as always, support Caribbean countries in promoting economic development, improving people’s livelihood, advancing regional integration and playing an active role in international affairs,” he added.

He said that China encourages Caribbean enterprises to participate in important exhibitions and trade fairs so as to promote their products.

“Likewise, we also encourage Chinese enterprises to go to the Caribbean countries for exports expositions to increase their imports from the Caribbean.”

He went on to say that the “underlying impact of the international financial crisis is still lingering and the global economic situation is extremely complex and uncertain”.

Among the measures announced were $1 billion loans to Caribbean countries to support local economic development, $1 million donation to the Caribbean Development Fund, several initiatives to increase Caribbean exports to China, support for the building of seismic and tsunami warning systems as well as 2,500 training opportunities.

It also included training for doctors and nurses, resources to boost tourism inflow in the region, provision to boost resources to boost agriculture and fisheries, support for the development of alternative, small scale energy projects such as solar energy.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, whose forefathers came from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 1845 and 1917, was a recipient of a $6 million grant which will be used for mutually-agreed projects.

She said the high-powered Chinese delegation was “a recognition of the value placed by China on trade with Caricom (Carribean community) states”.

The prime minister announced that they would establish an embassy in Beijng, with special emphasis on trade matters.

She added: “The forum is not only about trade and economics, but the accomplishment of mutual goals, and an advancement in the relationship which already exists between China and the Caribbean.”

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at paras.r@ians.in)

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