CHINESE Ambassador to TT Fang Qiu and Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon both expect relations between Trinidad and Tobago and China to grow, especially in agriculture and agro-processing.
This was said at the Second China-TT Investment Co-operation Forum on Monday at the Chinese Embassy in Port of Spain.
Fang said Hainan in south China has a tropical climate like TT and was modernising its agriculture sector, while Shanghai was an industrial city which could provide resources for TT-China co-operation. He said the two countries now enjoy annual trade volume worth US$1 billion.
"The Phoenix Park Industrial Estate, the first Belt and Road flagship project in the region, attracts more and more companies, local and foreign, to settle in."
Fang said the two countries agreed to build a new forensic science centre in TT. Letters of intent towards collaboration have also been signed between TT and Shanhgai, he added.
"We could open a new chapter of co-operation and a shared future for the two countries."
The diplomat hoped China's Belt and Road Initiative and Global Development Initiative would unleash immense vitality and creativity.
He addressed China's covid19 situation.
"Most recently, with the covid situation entering a new stable phase, China has issued steps to refine the response measures, shifting the focus of our response from stemming infection to preventing severe cases and caring for health. This shift is science-based, timely and necessary.
"The measures, aiming at protecting the lives and health of the people and reducing the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development to the maximum extent possible, are conducive to economic recovery and maintaining the stability of global industrial and supply chains."
He claimed China’s covid19 situation was now "on the whole predictable and under control," while its economy enjoys sound development.
Fang said China boasted 120 trillion yuan GDP, while goals of increasing its middle-class by 800 million people within 50 years.
Three years of 4.5 per cent annual growth in GDP will improve to 5.4 per cent this year according to a Morgan Stanley forecast, he said.
"What I want to stress is, be it in taming the virus or in achieving economic recovery, humanity cannot succeed without solidarity and cooperation.
"The right approach to tackling global crisis and realizing long-term development is through greater connectivity and inclusiveness."
He predicted future TT-China collaboration in people exchanges, agriculture, digital economy, renewable energy and green development, as priority areas.
Saying the Chinese new year begins in two weeks’ time, as the Year of the Rabbit, Fang quipped, "I hope TT-China co-operation leaps forward like a rabbit in the new year."
Gopee-Scoon said the forum sought to build on the existing good relationship between TT and China, in an era of enhanced co-operation where China was an important partner for the region.
She said TT remained a place of certainty, due to its political stability, educated population, geographical location and resources.
The minister said Phoenix Park will open within weeks and target manufacturing, distribution and logistics, having 13 tenants so far, with talks under way to get others..
The park was funded via China Exim Bank and built by Beijing Construction Engineering Group, Gopee-Scoon related.
Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture Avinash Singh, representing Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein, hailed TT-China past co-operation on trade, infrastructure, energy, transportation, and health,.
He said this forum was now apt given the global focus on agriculture.
Singh cited TT's co-operation with Guyana in the coconut sector, aquaculture, livestock, corn and soya bean production, while boosting agro-processing while tackling pest control and praedial larceny, following on from the Agri Investment Forum and Expo.
"Given the rich agricultural history of the People’s Republic of China, I am certain there are many areas in which we can gain support for some of the above-mentioned initiatives."
Singh hailed Hainan as China's "coconut capital" and saluted the creative use of bamboo fibres he witnessed upon visiting China.
"Can you imagine clothes made from bamboo? Shoes, ties, clothes?" Singh marvelled.