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Starting a New Phase in China-Caribbean Cooperation on BRI Implementation

  By Dr. Zhao Yongchen, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Grenada

  In 2013, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road Initiative or BRI). BRI quickly transformed from vision and concept into action and achievements, bringing tangible benefits to the people of participating countries. Up to now, China has signed 197 BRI cooperation documents with 137 countries and 30 international organizations. The total trade volume of goods with relevant countries exceeds US$6 trillion, and direct investment in relevant countries exceeds US$90 billion. The 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing in April 2019. 38 foreign heads of state or government and Secretary-General of UN, Managing Director of IMF attended the round table summit of the Forum. More than 6,000 foreign guests from 150 countries and 92 international organizations participated in the Forum. The Forum produced a list of 283 results which were implemented one by one currently. BRI has became the world's largest and most popular public good, and has made significant contributions to promoting global cooperation and common development.

  The Caribbean is a natural extension of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and, indeed, important participant of BRI. The Belt and Road cooperation between China and Caribbean countries have progressed smoothly and achieved fruitful results since 2018. In Oct. 28th-29th 2019, China and Grenada co-held the China-Caribbean Conference on BRI Implementation successfully in St. George, Ministers for Foreign Affairs or Economics Development and other high level government representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago gathered in the conference to starting a new phase in the Belt and Road Cooperation Between China and Caribbean Countries.

  The conference adopted Joint Statement of the China-Caribbean Conference on BRI Implementation, which is the first joint document on the Belt and Road Cooperation jointly adopted by China and regional countries. It provided guidance for further consensus of Caribbean countries and China on BRI and deepening China-Caribbean pragmatic cooperation. The joint statement also has a positive effect on the Belt and Road cooperation between China and other regions around the world.

  Through Extensive and in-depth discussion in the conference, participants realized that as an important international initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative is in line with the trend of peaceful development and win-win cooperation, brings more opportunities and makes great contribution to world economic growth as well as social development. Participants agree that Caribbean countries lie along the natural extension of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and, are, important participants of BRI.

  Participants focused on policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties, had in-depth exchanges of views on pragmatic cooperation and put forward many good ideas. Participants agreed to promote synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative and development plans of Caribbean countries, and strengthen development policy coordination. Participants attached great importance to the role of infrastructure in promoting economic growth and looked forward to strengthening cooperation in this period and jointly building connectivity partnership. Participants are willing to explore the possibility of strengthening financial investment cooperation, encourage institutional cooperation.

  Participants also had in-depth exchanges on tourism cooperation and put forward many constructive suggestions. Participants recognized the importance of deepening people to people exchanges, and are encouraging relevant parties to strengthen exchanges among parliament, legislatures, central and local governments, youths and societies, enhance mutual understanding, promote exchanges in various areas, such as education, human resources trainings, think tanks, media, publication, sports, tourism, and ecological environment and expand cooperation in tourism and cultural industry.

  Participants agreed to continue strengthening cooperation in the field of health and are willing to cooperate on strengthening prevention and treatment of tropical diseases. Participants encourage more collaboration on sustainable agriculture, forestry and biodiversity conservation. Participants agree to promote cooperation in disaster prevention, reduction and relief and the establishment of the Belt and Road International Cooperation Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Management.

  Participants fully affirmed the important role played by this conference in promoting high-quality cooperation of the Belt and Road between China and the Caribbean countries. Participants are willing to continue exploring mechanized communication and cooperation between two sides under the framework of BRI and promote relevant cooperation to a new high.

  The BRI comes from China but its opportunities and achievements are for the world to share. The Belt and Road cooperation between China and Caribbean countries has both potential demand and a bright future. The quality of development has produced fruitful cooperation. China and Caribbean countries shall take this conference as a new start, uphold the spirit of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, seize opportunities and work together to jointly promote the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation in the Caribbean. Let’s implement consensus reached at the conference through actions, bring true benefit to all our people, and move forward to an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world which enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.

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