Barbados is looking to China to help pull it out of its massive debt burden.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean this morning made a case for assistance from Beijing when she addressed the opening ceremony of the 6th round of Caribbean-China consultations at Hilton Barbados Resort.
McClean pointed to past examples of support, citing funding for “a number of economic sectors” including tourism, education and agriculture. She added that the Asian country’s development programme in the Caribbean went beyond “bricks and mortar” investments.
China’s economic growth rate slowed to a 25-year low in 2015. However, the world’s second largest economy still grew by 6.9 per cent last year.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs acknowledged this development and argued that Beijing still had the ability to help bail out the struggling economies of the region.
“Even within the context of this ‘new normal’ . . . we are confident that the Chinese economy remains resilient and stable,” she said.
McClean emphasized that the partnership between China and the Caribbean “continued to be strengthened in several concrete ways” and stressed that the gains derived from people-to-people contact had been immeasurable and had helped to strengthen the bonds of friendship.
In pressing her case to the Chinese delegation led by Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao, McClean said the Caribbean was facing new challenges at a time when many of the territories had yet to recover from the “catastrophic” economic crisis dating back to 2008.
“Among these new challenges confronting our economies are the issues of de-risking and correspondent banking as well as the debt burden,” the minister stated.
She contended that these issues constituted an existential threat to regional economies and saw the talks as an opportunity to explore possibilities for cooperation.
She recommended climate change adaptation and mitigation as a priority issue for consideration, contending that both sides had been affected by climate change and were committed to mitigating its impact. (EJ)