Barbados is in line to benefit from billions of dollars in investment opportunities, over the next decade, under a new initiative between the Republic of China and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean highlighted this yesterday, following her attendance at the first ministerial meeting of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC)/China forum in Beijing, People’s Republic of China January 7 to 9.
She said coming out of that meeting the targeted goal for bilateral trade between China, Latin America and the Caribbean was set at US$500 billion over the next ten years.
In the case of Barbados and CARICOM, she said, China would continue to provide concessional financing for many projects developed within the framework of the CELAC/China mechanism.
The proposed areas for cooperation range from development in agriculture, infrastructure and construction, energy, science and technology, education and human resources, and electronics, as well as tackling climate change.
McClean expressed gratitude, saying that the recent forum provided for further networking opportunities with China and Latin American countries.
During the meeting the foreign ministers reviewed and adopted three documents to guide the countries as they embark on the agreed cooperation initiatives.
Those documents were Institutional Arrangements and Operating Rules of China/CELAC Forum, the Beijing Declaration of the First Ministerial Meeting of the CELAC/China Forum and the CELAC/China Cooperation Plan 2015-2019.
“Barbados is therefore encouraged by the potential role of the CELAC/China Forum in promoting increased South-South cooperation between China and the Latin American and Caribbean region,” said McClean.
“I wish to state that Barbdos has reiterated the need for the CELAC/China Cooperation plan to be converted into workable projects, which must be implemented with alacrity so that there can be an early harvest.”
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Barbados Wang Ke said she saw the CELAC/China cooperation as an initiative that would provide a new platform for greater collaboration between China and the region.
Pointing to other projects that the Chinese Government has been helping the region with, Wang said the new cooperation has brought the relationship between China and the region to “a new high”.
“China is going to provide US$20 billion of special infrastructure construction loan, US$10 billion preferential loans, US$5 billion of China/CELAC corporation fund. Also China is going to provide 6,000 government scholarships and trainee positions [over] five years in CELAC countries. That shows the input China provided to the China/CELAC countries and it is a manifestation of our cooperation between China and CELA,” said Wang.
She said those resources could provide new opportunities for China and CELAC countries “to work towards a common goal to achieve win-win results and common development”.
“The Caribbean countries, including Barbados, will benefit from the China/CELAC forum,” the ambassador said, adding that China was a “long time” friend of the region.
“For the year of 2013 we provided 605 government scholarships to the Caribbean young people and . . . cultural exchanges. The cultural exchanges are increasing and that is the case here in Barbados.”