Executive Intelligence Review


Caribbean Countries Enthusiastically Embrace the Belt and Road Initiative

June 27, 2018 (EIRNS)—Caribbean nations are eagerly pursuing economic cooperation with China, both to develop their own economies, and locate themselves as important components in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aimed at developing the broader Caribbean, Central and South American region. Consider these examples:

First, Trinidad & Tobago (T&T): Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley was in Beijing last May, meeting with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, during which Rowley was quoted as saying by Xinhua on May 15, that

“in this new era, T&T is willing to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative...to expand trade and investment cooperation...[and] to help boost the development of relations between China and the Caribbean and Latin American countries.”

T&T has maintained diplomatic relations with China for 45 years.

A Chinese delegation visited T&T June 16-19 to follow up on Rowley’s trip, led by the Vice Mayor of Beijing Wang Ning, and Zhang Chuancheng, deputy general manager of the Beijing Construction and Engineering Group (BCEG). BCEG signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the T&T state company Evolving Technologies and Enterprise Development Company (eTeck), to build the $104 million Phoenix Park Industrial Estate, Point Lisas, to be financed by China’s Eximbank, the daily Newsday reported. Two other important deals were signed, and according to T&T’s Communications Minister Stuart Young, the government now expects to see an influx of Chinese investment “in some very significant projects,” the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian reported June 19. He said that the signed agreements are in keeping with the BRI, “which will enable T&T to be a gateway to Central America and other parts of the region.” At least five Chinese banks will be invited to set up branches in TT, and within a few weeks, construction will begin on a Panamax dry docking facility at La Brea.

Second, Jamaica: China’s Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Wang Jiangping visited this country June 20-22 to discuss, among other projects, expansion of the Special Economic Zones under the Logistics Hub Initiative. Mike Henry, Minister Without Portfolio at the Jamaican Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, emphasized that Wang’s visit “is very important as we [prepare] ourselves for the development of the Belt and Road structure that relates to the development of the logistics hub,” the Jamaica Information Service reported June 21.

There is great excitement about the involvement of China’s Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO), in building the Jamaica-Gansu Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone in Saint Elizabeth with a $3 billion investment. Minister Wang describes the project as a “win-win for all,” and says China will push to have more of its companies to come to Jamaica “to find potential investment opportunities.” When completed in 2023, the project is expected to generate 20,000 jobs, and another 80,000 when the broader industrial complex is completed in 2035, the Jamaica daily Gleaner reported June 24. The Alpart alumina refinery which JISCO already operates in Nain, Saint Elizabeth, will initially anchor the industrial park concept, the Gleaner explained, but eventually the project will incorporate an electricity plant, mechanical fabrication and processing and manufacturing of goods for export, and is considered to potentially be a “game changer” for the local and national economy.