THE University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus held a symposium titled “Exploring New Horizons in Caribbean-China Trade and Investment Relations” on Tuesday at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI).
The half-day symposium was a collaborative effort by the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy & Services (SRC), the Confucius Institute, the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) and the Faculty of Law, each of whose mandate touches, in some respect, on the Caribbean’s growing relationship with China.
The symposium was held on the margins of the annual Confucius Institute Board Meeting between the Cave Hill Campus and the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL). It was attended by members of the university and business communities, as well as academic and policy experts from the Caribbean and China.
In his welcome remarks, SRC Director, Neil C.A Paul, noted that the event was reflective of the emphasis UWI Cave Hill Campus placed on increasing its international presence and connections with top institutions across the globe.
Delivering opening remarks, Deputy Principal of The UWI Cave Hill Campus, Professor Winston Moore explained that UWI saw itself as playing a role in deepening China-Caribbean trade relations. The deputy principal also drew attention to several broader business and entrepreneurship-related initiatives UWI is currently undertaking.
Making remarks on behalf of the Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, was Ambassador of Barbados to the People’s Republic of China, François Jackman, who lauded the initiative and underlined that for Barbados, the regional dimension of the China-Caribbean relationship was of importance.
Several Caribbean countries, including Barbados, have signed Memoranda of Understanding with China under the latter’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Two major issues the symposium sought to address were: What are the potential trade and investment opportunities and the legal considerations arising from the deepening engagement between Caribbean countries and China, particularly under the BRI.
The first panel focused on the “Evolving Dynamics of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the Caribbean and the Legal Norms and Principles underpinning the BRI”.
The panelists were the Honourable Ambassador Professor Richard L. Bernal, OJ, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs, The UWI who joined via Zoom link; Sir Trevor Carmichael, KA, LVO, SCM, QC, attorney-at-law; Dr. Lan Hua, Associate Professor, Faculty of International Law, China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL); Dr. Don Marshall, Director and Senior Research Fellow of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES); and Dr Yu Meng, Assistant Professor of private international law, School of International Law, CUPL. The panel was chaired by Dr. Ronnie Yearwood, Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at The UWI Cave Hill.
The second panel was on “Business, Investment and Trade Dimensions in Caribbean-China Relations”. The panelists were Ambassador Jackman; Dr. Dong Jingbo, Associate Professor of Law at CUPL; Mrs. Connie Smith, Managing Director of Tricor Caribbean; Dr. Helene Zamor, Lecturer in French and Coordinator for Modern Languages at The UWI Cave Hill. Ms. Huan Zhu, Research Associate Professor at the Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies joined via Zoom link. The moderator was Alicia Nicholls, trade researcher with the SRC.
Key themes coming out of the panels were that the centre of the world’s economy is shifting east and that there are several areas of potential collaboration between China and the Caribbean under the BRI, including climate change, the film industry, international business, dispute settlement, economic substance requirements and language training. One of the main recommendations was the need for greater data and studies on Caribbean-China relations to assist in crafting a Caribbean trade policy towards China. The closing remarks were jointly delivered by the co-directors of the Confucius Institute, Dr. David Bulbulia and Dr. Li Renyan.
Expected outcomes of the event are the publication of academic papers on China-Caribbean relations under the coordination of the Faculty of Law to be featured in a high quality-themed journal, and a short policy document by the SRC reflecting the major themes and recommendations from the panels. It will also serve as input for the UWI-Global Belt and Road Research Network spearheaded by SALISES.