– through historic ‘Silk Belt and Road’ pact
GUYANA and China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) thereby creating a window of opportunity for both parties.
The agreement was signed within the Framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative, and well see Guyana benefitting significantly in the areas infrastructure development, trade and investment and other critical areas of mutual interest.
It was signed on Friday by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge and Chinese Ambassador to Guyana, Cui Jianchun at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the presence of President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson and Minister of Education Nicolette Henry.
The pact will foster enhanced cooperation between the two countries in five critical areas, namely: Policy coordination; facilities connectivity; trade and investment; financial integration; and people-to-people interaction.
Moments after the signing, Minister Greenidge told reporters that major emphasis will be placed on infrastructural development during the initial phases of the implementation of the agreement.
Noting that Guyana’s inadequate infrastructure serves as a constraint to investment, Minister Greenidge said:
“It also serves as a constraint to identification and access to markets, so one of our main priorities at this time is to work on the development of infrastructure.”
“That would include assistance with the designs of roads and harbours and the like, as well as access to funding for the construction for such facilities,” he explained while pointing out that through the Silk Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese Government has already made available over US$50B in funds for utilisation by Member States within Latin America and the Caribbean.
Noting also that Guyana and Brazil have already considered tapping into multi-billion-dollar fund, Minister Greenidge said:
“We have been speaking to all bilateral and multilateral partners. During our discussions with the Brazilians, we did discuss and explore the possibility of using funding from the Latin America China Funds to fund the road; that is something very much on the cards, and something we are working on.”
The road at reference is the stretch of road from Kurupukari in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) to Lethem in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo). Guyana has already secured funding for the paving of the road from Linden to Mabura.
The minister did not rule out the possibility of Guyana securing finance under the Silk Belt and Road Initiative for the construction of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge, saying that seven Chinese companies were among a batch of eleven companies that submitted tenders to prequalify for the financing, designing and building of the bridge.
The Chinese Ambassador told those present that the signing represents a new and promising chapter for our two countries, and that Guyana is the first country in South America and the first English-speaking one in the Caribbean to sign such a treaty with China.
“Without clear and correct roads, people cannot move; things cannot flow,” Ambassador Jainchun posited while noting that the five priority areas would set the stage for peaceful development.
“Without prioritised cooperation areas,” he said, “we cannot best utilise our limited resources and tap into our unlimited potentials. Policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, people-to-people bond and cooperation constitute the primary contents of the Belt and Road Initiative.
“Without the proper and practical mechanisms and principles, we cannot successfully build the Belt and Road,” he explained.
Ambassador Cui noted that the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative was developed in 2013 by China’s President Xi Jinping.
“Over 2,000 years ago, around 130 BC in China’s Han Dynasty, our ancestors, trekking across vast steppes and deserts, opened the transcontinental passage connecting Asia, Europe and Africa, known today as the Silk Road. Besides the land Silk Road, our ancestors, navigating rough seas, created sea routes linking the East with the West, namely, the Maritime Silk Road,” Ambassador Jaichun narrated as he put the initiative into historic perspective.
Guyana is the 74th country to sign onto the Belt and Road Initiative, which was also signed unto by 28 international organisations.
Guyana and China established diplomatic relations in 1972.