(CMC) – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have indicated a willingness to work with China regarding the socio-economic development of the 15-member grouping.
Foreign ministers of the nine CARICOM countries which recognise Beijing met with their Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the side-lines of the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) that ended here on Monday.
Chair of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) Maxine McClean, underscored the importance CARICOM attached to the existing Caribbean-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, and the Caribbean-China Consultations.
McClean who is also the Barbados Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister described those consultations as “valuable mechanisms for continued dialogue and cooperation”.
She said CARICOM also regards the “One Belt, One Road” initiative China announced in Santiago, as a “very important cooperation and development mechanism.
“We look forward to working closely with China in ascertaining the best means of linking the opportunities arising from the initiative to the Community’s own development goals and priorities. These include, for example, regional transportation, renewable energy, and strengthening our disaster management capacity,” the COFCOR Chair stated.
She said CARICOM also attaches importance to the CELAC-China Forum and believes a number of projects could redound to the benefit of all members of the Community from the Action Plan for 2019-2011.
Noting that sustainable development within CARICOM was challenged by peculiar exposures and vulnerabilities unique to Small Island Developing States, McClean said there was need for a “new paradigm in development finance” adding that this is critical for CARICOM to realise its economic and social development aspirations.
“We need the international financial architecture revised urgently to take into consideration the developmental peculiarities and vulnerabilities of SIDS,” she said, adding that CARICOM countries’ ability to rebound from the ravages of natural disasters is impaired by the graduation of some of its economies from access to concessionary development finance, due to the use of per capita income as the primary eligibility criterion and non-incorporation of their peculiar vulnerabilities.
“Concessional development funding is essential for the building of economic and climate resilience to serve as the platform for our sustainable development,” she said, urging the Chinese foreign minister to relay CARICOM’s concerns to his colleagues of the G20 and to the heads of international financial institutions.
She said that the region had also benefitted from China’s generous grant funding in the past and hoped that consideration would “continue to be given to this valuable means of development support.”