Wang Chao: Join Hands for a Bright Future of China-Caribbean Cooperation
2011/09/14
China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum has become an important venue to conduct exchanges and an effective mechanism to deepen practical cooperation since it was first held in 2005. Now, China and Caribbean countries are looking forward to the third forum held in Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago, on 12 and 13 September 2011.
Vice Premier Wang Qishan will lead a Chinese government delegation to attend the forum and more than 80 distinguished Chinese companies will participate as well. On the Caribbean side, not only leaders and ministers of Caribbean countries will lead government and business delegations to attend the forum, head from the Caribbean Community Secretariat will join as well. Chinese and Caribbean officials and entrepreneurs will discuss how to further strengthen win-win cooperation and achieve common development after the last forum was held four years ago.

Chinese people and Caribbean people are united by traditional friendship despite long distance between them. As developing countries, China and Caribbean countries are committed to economic development and improvement of people's livelihood even though they differ in national conditions, social systems and levels of development. Facing complex and fluid international situation and challenges and opportunities in economic globalization, both China and Caribbean countries have increasingly felt how important and urgent it is to strengthen their cooperation. It was against this background that China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum was launched.

In the past six years, the Chinese government has honoured its commitments under the framework of the forum by introducing a host of new measures in economic cooperation and trade, taking concrete steps to help Caribbean countries in their economic and social development, and improving their capacity for independent development. Multi-level and extensive cooperation between China and Caribbean countries has been established thanks to the forum, providing new driving forces in their friendship and cooperation.

The two-way trade has enjoyed rapid growth. According to China customs, it jumped from US$2.024 billion in 2004 to US$7.158 billion in 2010, an increase of 2.5 times. China has not only substantially increased its imports from the Caribbean region, but also diversified its import mix. Asphalt and liquefied natural gas from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, and Caribbean rum have become increasingly appealing in the Chinese market. With more exchanges between the two sides, it is expected that a growing number of competitive Caribbean products will be enjoyed by Chinese consumers.

Investment cooperation has made remarkable progress. Chinese companies have come to understand the real economic landscape and investment environment in Caribbean countries through the forum, and take into account these countries in their global expansion. They have invested in Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana), sugar factories in Jamaica, a megaresort project in the Bahamas, oil field development in Trinidad and Tobago, and other projects which have created a large number of jobs there and contributed to local economic and social development. Chinese financial institutions are exploring the possibility of providing financing support to some large infrastructure projects in this region. I am confident that as economic globalization deepens and Chinese and Caribbean economies continue to grow, more Chinese companies and financial institutions will participate in the investment and financing cooperation in the Caribbean region.

Our cooperation in agriculture, fishery and tourism has made new headway. They are not only priority sectors in Caribbean countries, but also areas with great potentials in our cooperation. We have worked hard and made good progress in cooperation in these sectors. China has transferred technologies, provided seeds and seedlings, and supplied other services in its agro-technical cooperation with Dominica, Grenada and Cuba. Our efforts have helped diversify the variety of local agricultural products, enhanced their production volume and quality, and won high praise of local governments and farmers. China and Caribbean countries have signed MOUs which enabled Chinese groups tours to this region. Our cooperation in tourism will have a brilliant future as more Chinese tourists are allured by the charming seas, sands and sunshine in the Caribbean region. China's picturesque landscape and vivid cultural and historical legacy will also attract more and more visitors from Caribbean countries.

Human resources development has become a highlight in our cooperation. Since the first forum, nearly 1,700 Caribbean officials and professionals have received training or attended workshops in China, while China has dispatched more than 200 agricultural experts, young volunteers and medical staff to Caribbean countries. Cooperation in the area has boosted capacity building in Caribbean countries and substantially enhanced understanding and friendship between the Chinese people and the Caribbean people.

The third China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum will be another important event in our cooperation. It will be convened on 12 September, the traditional Chinese mid-Autumn festival. When the full moon rises over the beautiful Port of Spain, friends from China and Caribbean countries will gather once again to enjoy the fruits of their increasingly mature business relationship and charter the course for future win-win cooperation and common development. It is my firm belief that with concerted efforts from all parties the third forum will be a complete success.
 
Wang Chao, Vice Commerce Minister of China 
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