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China boosts Caribbean economies with $1 billion in loans

Chinese officials met with Caribbean authorities last Monday in order to discuss the valuable offer of $1 billion in loans. China intends to help Caribbean economy by pitching new projects and investments that will also boost the Caribbean holidays market

China boosts Caribbean economies with $1 billion in loans

Chinese tourism officials met with Caribbean authorities last Monday in Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago. During the meeting, China announced it would provide Caribbean countries with $1 billion in loans to finance new infrastructure projects, making business ties between China and the Caribbean considerably stronger.

Wang Qishan, China’s Vice Premier, told Chinese and Caribbean officials in Port of Spain, that loans would become available through the sate-run China Development Bank. “China cannot develop itself in isolation of the world and the world needs China for its development,” he stated. One of the main sources of financial income for Caribbean countries is the tourism sector. These projects will help sustain and recover their economies as Caribbean holidays become less popular due to their increasingly higher costs.

The U.S. and Europe, both traditional sources of tourists and investments to these countries, have now reduced their usually high number of visitors and investors due to the global financial crisis. Meanwhile, China seizes the opportunity to carry out a business scheme, planned in Beijing. By providing these loans and investments, China seeks natural resources and political influence in the developing world, from Africa to Latin America.

Even though the amount of loans and investments made by China in the Caribbean are still significantly smaller than their multibillion-dollar investments in places like Africa, it could go a long way in helping the region’s fragile economy at the present time and give a much-needed boost to Caribbean holidays. Wang says that trade between China and the Caribbean had grown annually by 24%, reaching $7.2 billion in 2010. The terms of the loans were discussed in the two-day-long reunion that began last Monday in Port of Spain.

China is also taking an active interest in countries like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba. As for the first, China is planning to invest over $400 million to restart a stalled beachfront resort project, which will attract more tourists to Dominican Republic holidays.

In Jamaica’s case, China has already invested more than $1 billion in one of the most important ports, a conference centre, highway projects and a cricket stadium. Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett admits China’s growing bonds with the Caribbean by stating that “China has become an important source of foreign direct investment for us.”

Cuba is, and has been for a considerable amount of time, China’s main training partner in the Caribbean. Orlando Hernandez Guillen, Vice Minister of Trade and Investment of Cuba, stated his satisfaction with the recent meeting. “China represents hope for the poorest nations of the world and its impressive development springs from its own resources... not exploiting or pillaging other nations” he explained.

Chinese influence and involvement in Cuba is more noticeable by the day, not only do the Chinese invest in resort projects to aid the Cuban tourism sector, and heighten the income Cuba holidays provide to the country’s fragile economy, but they also supply Cuba with Chinese-made goods that go from buses to every-day household items.

A unit of China National Petroleum Corporation is participating in a $6 billion project to enlarge and improve an oil refinery in the Cuban city of Cienfuegos. The plan includes the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal. China also benefits from these exchanges with Cuba; they buy nickel, sugar and other Cuban products and they produce pharmaceuticals together.

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