A number of ways to improve Barbados’ trading relationships with China were highlighted today when Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Xu Hong, made a courtesy call on Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson.
Among the issues raised during the courtesy call at the Baobab Towers, in Warrens, St. Michael, was preferred nation status for ships registered in Barbados, visa requirements for travel between the two countries, and the possibility of shorter travel to China.
During the visit, Hutson made the point that business people were more likely to invest in countries they could easily visit, as they would need to travel back and forth.
He stressed the need for visa challenges between the two countries to be addressed, along with the high cost of travel.
“Right now visitors have to go through London and that can be a deterrent,” he said, adding it involved many transfers.
However, while the Minister is advocating for easier travel arrangements between China and Barbados, he is also stressing the need for demand to be created in Barbados.
“We need a drawing card to attract the Chinese to come to a new market rather than stay with traditional markets,” he explained.
On the matter of preferred nation status on ships registered, Hutson told the ambassador that ships registered under the Barbadian flag could not access benefits of preferential rates, thereby putting the country at a disadvantage.
Noting that he did not know how possible it was to operate a direct flight between Barbados and China in the near future, Ambassador Xu said China was open to having an agreement to set the framework for such a cooperation.
He also presented the minister with a copy of a draft Air Service agreement for his review and findings, and to open the door for negotiations in that area.
On the issue of preferred nation status on ships registered locally, the ambassador urged the minister to write to the embassy outlining his concerns and proposals for alternatives.