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Seize Belt and Road Opportunity for Closer China-Trinidad and Tobago Cooperation

        On June 2, the Chinese Embassy held a breakfast meeting on the topic of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative- Prospects of China-Trinidad and Tobago Cooperation. H.E. Song Yumin delivered a speech named Seize Belt and Road Opportunity for Closer China-Trinidad and Tobago Cooperation on the meeting.



Seize Belt and Road Opportunity for Closer China-Trinidad and Tobago Cooperation


Honourable  Ministers, Members of the Senate, Members of Parliament,

Permanent Secretaries,

Distinguished guests,

Members of the media,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning,

        It is my great honour and pleasure to welcome all of you to participate and share in this morning's breakfast meeting hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago. In the wake of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing which Hon. Minister Stuart Young attended, representing Trinidad and Tobago, this morning we'll focus on the topic of China's Belt and Road Initiative for international cooperation and the fresh impetus it may provide to our already strong bilateral cooperation between China and Trinidad and Tobago.  Minister Stuart Young will share with us this morning his observation of the Forum and his vision on our future cooperation, Dr. Terrence Farrell and Professor Kenneth Julian will speak on their parts. I am much obliged to them to this end.  

The forum held in Beijing 3 weeks ago is the highest-level international event under the framework of the B&R initiative, as well as the largest multilateral diplomatic activity convened by China ever.

29 heads of state and government leaders, and 1,599 delegates including officials, entrepreneurs, financiers and media from over 130 countries and 70 international organizations, sat down together contributing wisdom to the building of a new model of cooperation. It sent a positive signal for all parties to work together to build a community of shared future, which would be extremely important for China and the world. The Forum yielded a list of outcomes, included 76 consensuses comprising more than 270 detailed results in five key areas, namely policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity. It pointed out clear ways for future cooperation.

The Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the same year of his historic state visit to Trinidad and Tobago.

Four years on, more than 100 countries and international organizations have endorsed and joined the Belt and Road initiative. Resolutions by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council have also incorporated the building of the Belt and Road. By reviving the Silk Road Spirit that features peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and mutual learning and mutual benefit, China has translated the Belt and Road initiative from notion to action, from vision to reality. Within last four years, Fruitful results have been yielded in the following aspects: 

Firstly, these four years have seen deepened policy connectivity. We have enhanced coordination on the policy initiatives of relevant countries, such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Mongolia, Viet Nam, UK and Poland. China has signed cooperation agreements with over 40 countries and international organizations and carried out framework cooperation on production capacity with more than 30 countries.

Secondly, these four years have seen enhanced infrastructure connectivity. China has accelerated the constructions of highways, railways and ports in cooperation with relevant countries. A large number of connectivity projects are also in the pipeline.

Thirdly, these four years have seen increased trade and investment connectivity. China has worked with other countries to promote trade and investment facilitation and improve the business environment. Total trade between China and other Belt and Road countries in 2014-2016 has exceeded US$3 trillion, and China's investment in these countries has surpassed US$50 billion. Chinese companies have set up 56 economic cooperation zones in over 20 countries, generating some US$1.1 billion of tax revenue and 180,000 jobs for them.

Fourthly, these four years have seen expanded financial connectivity. China has engaged in multiple forms of financial cooperation with countries and organizations involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has provided US$1.7 billion of loans for 9 projects in Belt and Road participating countries. The Silk Road Fund has made US$4 billion of investment, and the 16+1 financial holding company between China and Central and Eastern European countries has been inaugurated.

 Fifthly, these four years have seen strengthened people-to-people connectivity. Every year, the Chinese government provides 10,000 government scholarships to the relevant countries. China's local governments have also set up special Silk Road scholarships to encourage international cultural and educational exchanges. Projects of people-to-people cooperation such as Silk Road culture year, tourism year, art festival, film and TV project, seminar and think tank dialogue are flourishing. These interactions have brought our people increasingly closer.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Focusing on "Cooperation for Common Prosperity", the Belt and Road Forum pooled the wisdom and strength of participants to plan for projects along the routes and to make a blueprint for win-win cooperation. During the Forum, action plans were made on infrastructure, energy and resources, industrial cooperation, trade and investment, and many other areas. Looking into the future, the Belt and Road will be built into a road for peace, a road of prosperity, a road of opening up, a road of innovation, as well as a road connecting different civilizations.

China has brought forward a series of cooperation proposals and supporting measures in pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, a strong signal that calls on all parties to forge cooperation platforms, seek momentum for world economic growth, and prop up confidence for the development of economic globalization.

 China pledged to contribute an additional 100 billion Yuan(14.5 billion USD) to the Silk Road Fund, and encourage financial institutions to conduct overseas RMB fund business with an estimated amount of 300 billion RMB.

The China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will set up special lending schemes. This will be worth 250 billion RMB equivalent and 130 billion RMB equivalent respectively. The fund will be used to support Belt and Road cooperation.

China will work with the AIIB, the BRICS New Development Bank, the World Bank and other multilateral development institutions to support Belt and Road related projects.

China will work with interested parties to formulate the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road.

China will enhance cooperation on innovation with other countries. We will launch the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan, which consists of the Science and Technology People-to-People Exchange Initiative, the Joint Laboratory Initiative, the Science Park Cooperation Initiative and the Technology Transfer Initiative. In the coming five years, we will offer 2,500 short-term research visits to China for young foreign scientists, train 5,000 foreign scientists, engineers and managers, and set up 50 joint laboratories. We will set up a big data service platform on ecological and environmental protection. We propose the establishment of an international coalition for green development on the Belt and Road, and we will provide support to related countries in adapting to climate change.

"Initiative" means taking the lead, getting the ball rolling. The Chinese Funding is like a seed and a catalyst. China kicked off the ball, and is hoping others to join and play together. It is an open initiative that can be aligned to the existing world order and domestic development strategies of different countries.   China and Trinidad and Tobago share converging development strategy and enjoy high complementarity in economic transformation. Should our development plans be synergized with the Belt and Road strategy, our comprehensive and practical cooperation will gain greater driving force. Both countries are at critical stage of national construction, face the similar challenges in economic structural transformation and upgrading and shoulder the common responsibility to boost their economies. It offers broader space for further bilateral cooperation when Trinidad and Tobago embarks on its diversification actions. Under the "1+3+6" framework of China-CELAC cooperation, practical cooperation could be strengthened in fields including financing investment, industrial parks, infrastructure, and tourism, reshaping Trinidad and Tobago as the regional center for shipping, logistics and financing.

The Initiative is open to all like-minded countries, as President Xi said, the Latin America and Caribbean region is a natural extension of 21st century Maritime Silk Road. TT is the only English-speaking Latin American and Caribbean country participating the historical Summit, and we sincerely hope TT will continue to take the lead in strengthening cooperation with China, and to benefit from the win-win cooperation.


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