Barbados and China have committed to exploring new avenues to strengthen the existing bilateral relationship between both countries.
Chinese Ambassador Xu Hong and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, gave this undertaking during a recent courtesy call.
During the meeting with the Ambassador and his delegation, a preliminary list of projects identified by the Government for grant financing and their benefit to Barbados’ socio-economic development were discussed.
The minister said the projects in areas such as energy conservation, education, sports and culture, agriculture, industry and social care, were critical to the island and singled out the island’s dependence on fossil fuels for emphasis.
“We have identified a number of critical areas… Barbados is very heavily dependent on fossil fuels with $800 million or more spent on the importation of oil annually. Therefore, when we look at our total budget, that is more money than we spend on either education or health as allocated in the Estimates,” McClean added.
She further stated: “Given the abundance of sunshine, one of our efforts must be the utilisation of renewable energy and I believe that Government must be a leader in the transition to renewable energy…”
McClean also mentioned agriculture and the importance of creating agro entrepreneurs; entrepreneurship facilitation; enhanced nurses training with emphasis on preventative medicine; and the implementation of a programme for seniors.
Meanwhile, Xu pledged to work with the Government to forge closer ties and one step to achieving this he said, would be to hold regular meetings with the Government every three months to review the relationship.
“Over the next five years, the strengthening of our relationship will be based on the principles of mutual respect and understanding and trust. We will also focus on cultural exchanges and trade but, we [Chinese Government] will attach great importance to the bilateral agreements,” he affirmed.
Likewise, China’s Vice Minister of Commence, Zhong Shan, during a courtesy call at Government Headquarters on Monday, also pledged his country’s assistance to Barbados in areas such as renewable energy, wind energy, tourism, agriculture and commercial industry.
Barbados and China established diplomatic relations on May 30, 1977.