Guyana gearing for China’s Caribbean trade, investment ‘invasion’ in T&T

More than 30 local businesses are expected to participate in the Third Caribbean-China Economic Forum scheduled to take place in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from September 12 to 13.

Stabroek Business has been reliably informed that the local companies expected to participate in the forum are Sithe Global, the entity undertaking the Amalia Falla Hydro Project; Ming’s Products and Services; Brass Aluminum and Cast Iron Foundry (BACIF); Toolsie Persaud Ltd; Wireless Connections; and Wings Aviation. This newspaper has learnt that the Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association (GMSA), the private sector umbrella body spearheading plans for Guyana’s representation at the forum, is working with other private sector organizations to boost the extent of Guyana’s participation in the forum.

This Hong Kong freeway is one of the high-profile projects undertaken by the China Harbour Engineering Company one of the Chinese companies that will be in Port-of-Spain fir the Third China-Caribbean Trade and Economic Forum later this month

At the level of the wider Caribbean, private sector entities from Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Dominica, Barbados, Cuba, and Grenada are also expected to attend the event.

Stabroek Business has also been informed that Port-of-Spain’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, the venue for the event, will allow participating countries to stage separate exhibitions and that the Guyana/China Business Council will stage a display comprising a mix of Guyanese indigenous products while individual Guyanese participants will showcase their respective businesses, equipment, machinery and infrastructure both electronically and through brochures and other printed material.

Arising out of ongoing discussions between regional private sector officials and Chinese diplomatic representatives in the Caribbean, Stabroek Business has learnt that China’s private sector representation at the forum will be spearheaded by some of its blue ribbon manufacturing, engineering and service entities, including the Haier Electrical Appliances Corporation, China Harbour Engineering Com-pany, Compliant Inter-national Engineering Corporation, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, and Alcatel= Lucent Shanghai Bell Company Ltd, all of which have track records outside of China.

The Chinese contingent for the event is also expected to include investment conglomerates with interests in the clean energy, tourism, construction, information technology, agriculture, agro-processing, mining and hospitality sectors. The 160-odd Chinese entrepreneurs who will travel to the Caribbean for the encounter will be drawn from the financing and investment, construction, electronics, information technology, manufacturing and mining and energy sectors. The Chinese official delegation will include Yu Peng, Vice Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of Inter-national Trade (CCPIT) AND Wang Chao, the Chinese Vice Minister for Commerce.

Stabroek Business has also learnt that the Guyana-China Business Council which was resuscitated earlier this year and which has been involved in helping to mobilize the local business community for the Forum is likely to use the opportunity that will be afforded by the large Chinese private sector presence in the region to hold its Third Meeting. The meeting will undertake a review of the various government-to-government and private sector projects which Chinese public and private sector entities have undertaken and are undertaking in Guyana, including the Skeldon Sugar Factory, the International Convention Centre, the Guyana Power & Light Company’s new transmission lines and the acquisition of roll-on roll-off multi-purpose ferries.

The vast majority of Chinese investment initiatives undertaken in Guyana have been at the government to government level.  These include the now defunct Bel-Lu Claybrick Factory, the Moco Moco Hydro Power Scheme and the Sanata Textile Mills. Chinese private sector interests in Guyana include investments in the bauxite and forestry sectors.

Guyana will be looking to the Port-of-Spain encounter with the Chinese to improve the existing trade imbalance by seeking to secure Chinese markets for local fruits, and vegetables. GMSA President Clinton Williams says that local businesses will also be seeking to acquire Chinese-made agro-processing equipment. Williams also anticipates possible Chinese technical support for the growth of value-added production from locally available raw materials.

The China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum is the highest level of economic and trade encounter the Caribbean and China. The first two fora were staged in Kingston, Jamaica in February 2005 and in Xiamen, China in September 2007.

Most Caribbean territories have been recipients of investments from China. While the overall investment is difficult to quantify, China’s Ministry of Commerce has reported that foreign direct investment in Caribbean countries by Chinese firms totaled nearly $7 billion in 2009, a more than 300 percent increase from the 2004 foreign direct investment of $1.7 billion.

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