Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is greeted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday
BEIJING, China -- China promised on Tuesday to deliver a long range vessel (LRV) to the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard in the shortest possible time.
"This is really good news," Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said.
Persad-Bissessar said she convinced Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard needed two vessels to lock down the country's borders in light of the increase in arms and narco trafficking.
The prime minister led a Trinidad and Tobago delegation to bilateral talks with the Chinese premier and top officials of the Chinese government at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday.
Persad-Bissessar came to the table in Beijing with a list of proposals, hoping to convince her Chinese counterpart to assist.
"We are here today to further the partnership we started 40 years ago. I am hoping that you could use your good office to drive these projects," the prime minister added.
The prime minister said she was aware that China was building two LRVs and pleaded with Li Keqiang to sell one "in the shortest possible time." She also sought assistance from the Chinese in the establishment of a national operations centre (NOC), saying that a Chinese company was already interested in such a project.
Persad-Bissessar said a team from the Coast Guard recently visited China and proposed that Trinidad and Tobago acquire one LRV "right away."
She told the Chinese premier, "National security remains the number one priority of my government right now."
The governments of China and Trinidad and Tobago will now sit down and deal with the financing aspect of the purchase.
In her discussions, Persad-Bissessar also sought assistance with the following:
1) Construction and design of six new economic zones in Trinidad and Tobago.
2) Development of a trans-shipment port and dry dock in South Trinidad.
3) Early processing of a loan agreement with the China Exim Bank so these projects can be expedited.
4) Construction of two new hospitals.
5) Removal of asphalt from the Pitch Lake in greater capacities.
The prime minister thanked the Chinese for the scanner for the port, and said her government was interested in purchasing more.
She said Trinidad and Tobago was strategically located to become the gateway of the Americas. This was something which aroused the attention of the Chinese premier. He said it was something which his government would explore.
Four agreements were signed on Tuesday in the areas of health, sport, energy and civil aviation.