T&T, China in talks to build dry docking facility in La Brea

China’s President Xi Jinping, right, greets Prime Minister Keith Rowley at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Tuesday. PICTURE AP

(Trinidad Guardian) T&T and China have held discussions on a possible partnership in the construction of a dry docking facility in La Brea and possibilities for foreign direct investment.

The discussions took place when Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and the T&T delegation visited the China Communications Construction Company Ltd in Beijing.

Chinese involvement in the construction of the dry docking facility in La Brea was first announced by the Government in August last year, following a visit to China by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young, who is also part of the T&T delegation meeting with Chinese officials.

In a previous speech at the Port-of-Spain Rotary Club, Young assured that the Government was not “asking the Chinese to just come here and build and give us financing,” but he said the conditions include the use of local content and local labour.

Young said then that the project could have tremendous benefits to this country “imagine all of the ships from China and all of the trading from China coming to the Western Hemisphere and coming through the Panama Canal for bunkering for oil et cetera, for ship repair we asked the Chinese government to participate with us for a dry docking facility in La Brea and then we hope all of that shipping will come here.”

On Tuesday at talks with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Rowley invited the Chinese leader to take advantage of T&T’s strategic geographical location in terms of expanding trade and other services.

The Prime Minister also reiterated his call for foreign direct investment from China. The Chinese leader expressed his willingness to encourage Chinese companies to invest in T&T and also to deepen long-standing ties.

Chinese media reported that the Chinese President urged that the two countries enhance the synergy of their development strategies and plans.

Xi was reported as saying that China stands ready to strengthen cooperation with T&T under the Belt and Road Initiative and help promote its socio-economic development.

Rowley and Xi also agreed to collaborate for next year’s celebration of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries and the Chinese leader extended an invitation for T&T to take part in an international expo on importation to be held in China in November.

T&T became the first country from the Carib-bean to sign a Memorandum of Under-standing with China for the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to eradicate poverty, create jobs, ad-dress the consequences of international financial crises, promote sustainable development, and advance market-based industrial transformation and economic diversification.

The Belt and Road Initiative now encompasses nearly 70 countries with a population of over 4.8 billion people and covers economies worth a total of some US$21 trillion.

The Fitch rating agency reported in 2017 that US$900 billion in projects were already planned or underway.

On the first day of the T&T delegation’s visit to China on Monday Premier Li Keqiang announced that China was willing to align the Belt and Road Initiative with T&T’s development strategy.

Li said China is willing to align the Belt and Road Initiative with T&T’s domestic development strategy and push forward bilateral cooperation in building infrastructure, energy, finance and agriculture.

Li also said China was encouraging its own businesses to invest in Trinidad and Tobago on the basis of respecting market rules and that China was willing to help T&T to “develop its economy and improve people’s livelihood.”

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