Friday, March 7, 2014

China visit a big success: PM Kamla

Statement by PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar at post cabinet media briefing - Thursday 06 March, 2014.

As you are aware we recently returned from a highly successful visit to the People’s Republic of China where I was accompanied by personnel from both the private and public sector as well as Ministers Vasant Bharath, Kevin Ramnarine  and Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Winston Dookeran.

I wish to thank the team who accompanied me and note with tremendous pride that they gave a good account of themselves and marketed Trinidad and Tobago with great success.

As we touched down on Chinese soil, I recalled with a sense of gratitude that over 200 years ago the first Chinese immigrants landed on our shores and through their vision, persistence and hard work they have been contributing to every sector of our society and this in a very meaningful way.

I also wish to place on record our sincere appreciation and my personal gratitude to the Government and people of China for their warmth and generous hospitality throughout our visit to their country from which there is so much to learn. The charm of the East will remain with us for a very long time indeed.

Moreover, my I offer my sincere thanks Mr. Huang Xingyuan, Chinese Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, for all the hard work that he has done.

During the visit, bilateral discussions were held with my counterpart in the Government of China, His Excellency Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.

Courtesy calls were paid on His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China and His Excellency Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The visit reciprocated the State visit paid by His Excellency Xi Jinping during May 31 to June 01, 2013.

The visit afforded the opportunity for dialogue on key issues on the bilateral agenda such as energy, air services, health, sport, economic and social development and issues on the multilateral agenda such as trade and investment, human development and security cooperation.

These discussions have led to a renewed optimism in the partnership between Trinidad and Tobago and the People’s Republic of China. This friendly and mutually beneficial relationship is one which we want to continue to nurture.

What did we achieve in China and what benefits can be expected.

1.Signing of Three (3) Memoranda of Understanding and a Protocol.


Energy cooperation between Trinidad and Tobago and China is strategic to both nations. As a world leader in the application of CNG for transport, China is increasing its use of cleaner natural gas and has increased its import of Liquefied Natural Gas. China also imports asphalt from Lake Asphalt of Trinidad and Tobago and has expressed increased interest in this product.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the National Energy Administration of the People’s Republic of China was signed. The MOU seeks to foster green energy initiatives in Trinidad and Tobago and the CARICOM region.

The MOU will facilitate co-operation on scientific, technical and policy aspects of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies through the exchange of ideas and information.

Some of the main areas of cooperation in the MOU include:

1. Cooperation among state-owned and other entities engaged in the energy sector.
2. The establishment of joint ventures and partnerships in the field of oil and gas exploration and production and downstream energy projects;
3. The assessment of the potential for the supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the People’s Republic of China;
4. Cooperation on the development and utilisation of new technologies related to natural gas, inclusive of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for vehicles, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for vehicles and for natural gas cooling systems;
5. The facilitation of the exchange of expertise and research in order to promote the capacity-building in matters related to the field of renewable energy;
6. Cooperation on projects and activities related to renewable energy including solar energy and wind energy;

In addition to the Government to Government MOU another MOU was executed between State owned NGC and Chinese company ENN Energy. This MOU specifically deals with the implementation of the CNG initiative.

The MOU also considered the use of LNG as a transportation fuel which has applications for maritime transport in Trinidad and Tobago.

China, it should be noted, is also a major producer of CNG buses. The National Gas Company (NGC), in partnership with the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC), is actively exploring this market.


A Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Sport of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the General Administration of Sport of the People’s Republic of China for Cooperation in the Field of Sport was signed.

The MOU will facilitate cooperation and exchange programmes in the field of physical education and its applied sciences, including, as well as through the exchange of sports delegations, experts, officials, coaches, technical advisors, specialists and other experts.

The ongoing construction of the multi-purpose sporting facilities, including the George Bovell III Aquatic Centre, the National Cycling Velodrome and the National Tennis Centre. Upon their completion these will serve as world class sporting facilities to spur the development of local and regional sports and will make Trinidad and Tobago an attractive destination for sport tourism.


Discussions on security highlighted the need for further cooperation in the area of maritime and border security, and illicit trafficking.

There is urgent need to strengthen bilateral, regional and international cooperation to comprehensively respond to the challenges posed by drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime, including trafficking in persons and firearms, cyber-crime, terrorism and the financing of terrorism.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago therefore considered the acquisition of long range vessels to aid in its crime interdiction efforts given our insular nature and porous boundaries.

You will recall that during the historic visit to TT of His Excellency Xi Jinping, we held bilateral talks which included the possibility of China supplying to TT naval vessels.

Acquisition of assets for the Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guard is currently one of the priorities of the Government Trinidad & Tobago.

The need to acquire the correct number, class, type and variation of vessels for the Coast Guard which will allow them to conduct their roles and missions, such as, search & rescue, narcotic interdiction and maritime patrolling to name a few as well as ensuring the people of Trinidad & Tobago receive value for their money is of utmost importance.

As such, an operational audit of the Coast Guard was conducted in 2013 and the findings of this audit highlighted the operational roles, Status and current mission concepts of the Coast Guard as well as the vessels required to accomplish these goals.

The audit also looked at international emerging trends and, along with the Coast Guard, developed a Concept of Operations to meet these future threats.

The Coast Guard Audit Team found many deficiencies but worked with the Coast Guard to develop, for the first time, a fleet mix to create a balanced force of appropriate size. To including the following class of vessels:

  • Long Range patrol Vessels 
  • Coastal Patrol Vessels
  • Interceptors
  • Floating platforms (to be strategically located around the island where the Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guard could respond in the shortest possible time)
Prior to my visit to China a team of Officials visited not only China but also South Korea, the Netherlands and Columbia to search for the right vessels to serve the naval and border security needs of our country.

Contrary to what is being referred to as an “on the spot decision” those with the requisite knowledge and experience were the ones who travelled and did the assessments based upon criteria agreed upon by the stakeholders in the Ministry of National Security.

If a purchase is made from China or from any other country, it will be in accordance with the agreed criteria and technical requirements as well as the professional opinions and recommendations of the team.

Air Services

Recognising the importance of the development of air service links between the two countries, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Civil Aviation Administration of China was also signed by the Honourable Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The MOU was signed by the Parties on the understanding that discussions with respect to the conclusion of an Air Services Agreement to regulate the conduct of Air Services between both countries are ongoing with a view to concluding the Agreement at a later date.

Public Health

A Protocol between the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the People’s Republic of China concerning the Sending of a Chinese Medical Team to work in Trinidad and Tobago was signed on February 25th, 2014.

The Protocol will facilitate the dispatch of a medical team of specialists from China upon receiving a request from Trinidad and Tobago to carry out medical work in close cooperation with their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts and exchange experiences through medical practice aimed at improving the delivery of health services to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

The signing of these four agreements signals the mutual commitment of Trinidad and Tobago and China for improving processes in Trinidad and Tobago and strengthening our capacity in the area of applied research in support of ongoing diversification initiatives.


With specific regard to trade in services, a number of contracts have been awarded to Chinese construction firms in Trinidad and Tobago.

Proposed projects include the construction and design of the new Arima Hospital, the development of six (6) new economic zones across Trinidad and the development of additional transshipment port and dry-docking facilities in La Brea. On this latter point, Trinidad and Tobago’s position as a major player in the regional maritime industry is given greater emphasis.

The project aims to expand the local industry’s capacity in the context of forecasted increased maritime traffic to result from the widening of the Panama Canal. This represents a significant development for furthering of trade and investment between the Caribbean region and the People’s Republic of China.

It will serve as a mechanism for the development of practical strategies on a wide range of trade, investment and economic cooperation issues. This is seen as essential to spurring economic development and diversification of the Region, and to contributing to improvement in the well-being of our citizens.

There is great potential to increase the volume of trade between both countries. Hence the Business forums hosted in Beijing and Shanghai by InvesTT affirmed that Trinidad and Tobago welcomes investment in ICTs, light manufacturing, agribusiness and the creative industries, among other areas.

Business men from Trinidad and Tobago engaged their counterparts in discussion on mutually beneficial business opportunities.

In the area of trade and investment, we requested of both the Chinese Premier and President their personal assistance in ensuring that the various loan applications (totalling approximately US$775Million (TT$5Billion) submitted by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for six new Special Economic Zones and a new Trans-shipment Port and Dry Dock be expeditiously processed in Fiscal 2014 by The Export-Import Bank of China.

Both Chinese leaders provided their personal assurances that the loan applications would be urgently processed by the relevant authorities in China.

It should be noted that the construction and completion of these projects by March 2015 will bring significant economic benefits to Trinidad and Tobago including new economic infrastructure to spur the diversification of the economy and accelerate the development of the maritime economy.

Benefits of the Official Opening of the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, Beijing

Trinidad and Tobago and China established diplomatic relations on June 20, 1974 and enjoy a fruitful and dynamic bilateral relationship characterised by strong diplomatic links, extensive trade, technical cooperation and the exchange of High-Level visits.

During forty (40) years of diplomatic relations, our countries have engaged in cooperation initiatives in areas such as the provision of professional development courses, scholarships, and the disbursement of development loans and grants by the People’s Republic of China.

Trinidad and Tobago recognises the changing global dynamics and is keen on seizing opportunities presented by trading with economies such as the People’s Republic of China which hold great potential in terms of markets, investments, exposure to technology and innovation and tourism opportunities.

In light of the important role the People’s Republic of China plays in international trade and in global South-South cooperation efforts, it is in the interest of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to advance our economic and diplomatic relations with with China.

Moreover, the establishment of the Embassy, which has been in operation since late 2013, serves to expand our global diplomatic reach beyond the Far East, as efforts are in train to increase our diplomatic linkages with other countries of the Asian continent.

The visibility of Trinidad and Tobago has become heightened and the opportunity to provide prolonged accessibility to targeted persons and corporations will enhance the image of the country as the business capital of the Caribbean.

New and invaluable trade contacts will be developed and the branding and marketing of Trinidad and Tobago will be networked through the other countries of accreditation

The Embassy will serve to articulate the common grounds on which the foreign policy of Trinidad and Tobago is located and will provide the bases for cooperation in the world of diplomacy which is anchored on the rule of law and non-violent solutions to global conflicts.


In closing let me again thank the Government and People of China for their hospitality and cooperation and as well the delegation which accompanied me.

I also wish to thank the media personnel who accompanied us to China. From all reports the news you sent back to TT was well appreciated. You were a credit to your country.

I thank you.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai