JIS News

Charles Savarin, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Enterprise Development in the Commonwealth of Dominica has expressed the view that establishing formal relations between China and the Caribbean will create the basis for improving trade, investment, cultural and educational exchanges between the two regions.
In an interview with JIS News following this morning’s (Feb. 2) opening of the inaugural China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Mr. Savarin noted that the economy of both regions stood to benefit substantially from a closer relationship, particularly the Caribbean islands. “We believe that there is opportunity for increasing tourism exchanges between China and the Caribbean and that a good Caribbean network would serve the entire region well, if we now see thousands of persons from the Chinese mainland visiting the Caribbean and going through the chain of islands,” he said.
“Also, there is some Chinese investment in the tourism industry in the Caribbean and we would see China’s investment in the development of tourism infrastructure, coming out of this new cooperation relationship between ourselves and China,” he continued.
In terms of Chinese investment in his country, the Tourism Minister noted significant Chinese investment in the health, agriculture and construction sectors. However, he asserted that further cooperation, technical exchanges and technology transfer could assist in even further development of these sectors.
“We will seek out opportunities for trade and investment and seek to make the best of this opportunity, we will also want to follow it up with direct China/Dominica relations, so as to be able to build upon the contacts that are made here,” he said.
Mr. Savarin and the 40-member Dominican delegation headed by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, were among hundreds of Caribbean government and private sector officials from 14 countries this morning who attended the official opening ceremony of the inaugural China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, which is being held in Kingston, Jamaica from February 2-5.
There were representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
The heads of government of Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas and Dominica led those countries’ delegations, while the vice presidents led the delegations of Suriname and Cuba, and Bermuda’s vice premier headed that country’s delegation. Other countries were represented at the ministerial level.
Grenada, the latest addition to the list of Chinese approved destinations, having only just established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China on January 28 this year, was also represented at the Forum and expects significant benefits.
“We are extremely happy to be here as we believe this is an opportunity not only for the wider Caribbean, but also for Grenada, especially in the area of trade and economic development and investment. We think this Forum would be very pivotal in the future for our region’s development,” said Elvin Nimrod, Grenada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Meanwhile, Franklin Lithgow, who represented the Dominican Republic’s Centre for Exportation and Investment spoke of his government’s interest in forging economic and technical cooperation with the Chinese.
“We as a country are very interested in establishing business relations and diplomatic relations with China. We think that China is a country to be friends with and to be a part of their market, which is a very important market we are exercising due diligence to ensure that we establish relations with them,” said Mr. Lithgow, who is the Centre’s Director of Promotion and Investment.
The Centre for Exportation and Investment is the Dominican Republic’s equivalent to the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and so seeks to market the Dominican Republic and simultaneously invite investment into the island.

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