With a strategic position close to South American markets, and as a potential hub for shippingand trade, Trinidad and Tobago, T&T for short, is reinforcing bilateral links with China.
An official visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Caribbean archipelago in June last year,and T&T Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar’s official visit to China this week are heraldingthe dawn of a strong and mutually beneficial partnership between the two nations.
On Feb 26, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar will be opening the new Trinidad & Tobago Embassy in Beijing.
Her visit also coincides with the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment ofdiplomatic relations between the two countries.
During Xi’s first visit to the country, he and T&T Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar agreedto enhance diplomatic exchanges and high-level visits; to actively promote cooperation in thefields of infrastructure, energy and mining, and to explore further cooperation in agriculture,fisheries, science and technology, investment and financing, telecommunications and newenergy; to expand people-to-people exchanges, strengthen exchanges and cooperation in thefields of tourism and culture, especially creative industries, education, health, sports, journalismand personnel training, to support youth exchanges and set up a Confucius Institute in T&T atan early date; and to keep close cooperation on international affairs.
China will give positive consideration for providing energy-saving products to relevantCaribbean countries to help them enhance their abilities to adapt to and cope with the effects ofclimate change.
China already has a big presence in Trinidad in terms of oil exploration, through Sinopec andChina National Offshore Oil Corporation, and this will increase with the expansion of the PanamaCanal, which will allow easier exports of liquefied natural gas toward Asia. T&T received itshighest ever foreign direct investment of $2.5 billion in 2012, 90 percent of which was in theenergy sector. China has also donated $3.1 billion in concessional loans to the CaribbeanCommunity countries, which has delighted the T&T Prime Minister, who will represent theCARICOM community when he visits Beijing for the embassy opening.
“I know our delegation is very happy to visit China and we again want to thank His Excellencyand the people of China for visiting us. In fact, the president met with most of the heads ofCARICOM for a very gracious concessional financing during his visit in June. We have madeapplications and there are several projects here that are being undertaken by Chinese firms.”
Although T&T has been an oil and gas economy for over 100 years – the sector makes up 40percent of GDP and 80 percent of exports -the government has launched a diversification drivewhich aims to create a more balanced economy