Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean shakes hands with China’s Vice Foreign Minister, Wang Choa while regional representatives look on. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)
By Kim Ramsay-Moore
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- The sixth round of the Caribbean-China consultations held in Barbados was highlighted as an excellent opportunity for Caribbean countries and China to explore ways in which they could cooperate to address various challenges.
Barbados minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Senator Maxine McClean, made this assertion at the opening ceremony of the consultations.
According to her, many of the countries in the region had not yet recovered from the “catastrophic” economic crisis that started in 2008 and were still experiencing slow or negative economic growth.
“Among these new challenges confronting our economies are the issues of de-risking and correspondent banking, as well as the debt burden. These issues constitute an existential threat to our economies. These consultations provide an opportunity for us to raise these concerns and to explore the possibilities for cooperation,” she stated.
McClean, who co-chaired the meeting along with China’s vice foreign minister, Wang Choa, further outlined shared concerns between the Caribbean and China.
“In spite of the disparity in size, population and economy, the Caribbean and China share a number of concerns. Each side is affected by the impact of climate change and takes seriously the implementation at the national level of internationally agreed commitments with respect to climate change, as well as to the sustainable development agenda as a whole.
“As small island developing states, the Caribbean side is only too well aware of the effects of climate change which negatively impact our national economies and threaten our very physical existence. The area of climate change adaptation and mitigation is certainly a priority issue for consideration in our cooperation with China,” she said.
The minister also stated that the talks would further strengthen the relationship between China and the Caribbean. According to her, China was a good partner in the region and had funded projects in a number of sectors including tourism, education, education and agriculture.
“China’s support for the development efforts of the region has not been restricted to ‘bricks and mortar’ investments alone. Indeed, the gains derived from people-to-people contact have been immeasurable, and have helped to strengthen the bonds of friendship between our peoples,” McClean noted, adding that China had also provided humanitarian assistance to Dominica after Tropical Storm Erika devastated that country.