(Trinidad Express) Trinidad and Tobago is already beginning to put some TT$833 million of the US$3 billion in concessional loans from China to use.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced yesterday this country will be able to immediately access TT$833 million of these funds to accelerate the development of Business/Commercial and Industrial Parks throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
“We will be building seven such parks on 592.1 acres of land representing an investment of TT$833 million. The leasable space on the estates would be 355.7 acres. This would give an immediate boost to our country’s economic activity. We can do this within the next two years instead of waiting for this expansion,” she said during her feature address at the opening ceremony for the Caribbean Investment Forum at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s.
During his state visit at the end of last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries that support the People’s Republic of China’s One China policy, including Trinidad and Tobago, will benefit from US$3 billion in concessional loans from that country.
US$1.5 billion has been designated for infrastructural projects, and US$1.5 billion for other kinds of developmental projects.
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath, under whose purview these parks will fall, said he had already met with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xingyuan and the application process has already begun, with his hope to have things completed in four to six weeks.
Access to the loans, he said, was on a first come first serve basis, although he was not aware of if any other Caribbean country had applied as well.
He also said he hoped to be able to use some of the funding for the development of a transshipment port in La Brea.
“Cabinet has approved in principle the development of a port in La Brea so we are going to look at that facility and utilise some of the funding for that, as well as some dry docking facilities,” he said.
Persad-Bissessar also announced that a Chinese company has expressed interest in setting up a dry docking facility.
“We have already had an expression of interest from one prestigious Chinese ship and dry docking company that wishes to partner with us for the development of this activity as part of our maritime industry,” she said.
The maritime sector is one of the key diversification sectors earmarked for development by Government.
Bharath said a representative from the company, China Harbour, will be coming in for discussions.
“They are the largest firm of that nature in China and built most of the Chinese ports and have a significant amount of expertise. What we are looking for as well is to have someone build and manage it and then hand it back over to the government eventually (when we have the expertise necessary to run it),” he said.