PORT-OF-SPAIN: Following bilateral discussions with President of the Republic of China Xi Jinping and several regional heads of state, Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that her government is “actively seeking to penetrate new markets – regionally and internationally”.
Persad-Bissessar said China is viewed as a key business partner and a new potential market for T & T’s energy products. She held discussions with Xi in Port-of-Spain last week. It was the first time a president of the People’s Republic of China visited an English-speaking Caribbean nation.
“Alternative and renewable energy research and development is also high on our developmental agenda and we welcomed the involvement of the Chinese in this area,” Persad-Bissessar said during a press conference following the discussions with Xi and other regional leaders. “As you know we have been trying to diversify our economy and have identified six business clusters for the diversification of our local economy – the maritime industry, the energy industry, food sustainability, creative industries, tourism and financial services.”
Persad-Bissessar said her government has considered China’s increased involvement in the country’s energy sector with the entry of Sinopec Overseas Oil and Gas Limited into the local petroleum sector.
She discussed the 2011 acquisition of a 10 per cent stake in Trinidad-based natural gas producer, Atlantic LNG, by the China Investment Corporation, a Chinese government special purpose company.
“The recent agreement signed in 2011 between Lake Asphalt Trinidad and Tobago Ltd. and the China Railway Construction Caribbean Company for the supply of asphalt to the Chinese market for a three-year period is of benefit to our two countries,” said Persad-Bissessar. “We discussed how we might co-operate with Chinese firms with regard to the transfer of technical expertise in our efforts to develop the maritime industry in Trinidad and Tobago. Our embassy in China would be of great assistance in developing these business contacts.”
The memoranda of understanding signed between both countries, include the economic and technical co-operation agreement for 50 million RMB Yuan for social development projects, the letters of exchange for the acquisition of a set of linear accelerator X-ray, scanning and detection scanning systems and the establishment of the Confucius Language Institute with the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.
Persad-Bissessar also expressed hope that the Chinese government may facilitate the development of a T & T-based competitive ship building and repair industry.