Interview: BRI boosts cooperation, integration in Carribean, says expert

(Xinhua) 15:29, October 14, 2023

PORT OF SPAIN, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) promotes regional integration based on infrastructure, which is essential to enhancing trade and investment cooperation, an expert in Trinidad and Tobago has said.

The initiative provides the commensurate infrastructure to support and facilitate the unimpeded movement of goods, services and capital, allowing for the transborder flow of personnel and technology, Annita Montoute, acting director of the Institute of International Relations at the University of the West Indies, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Notably, Trinidad and Tobago was the first Caribbean country to sign the Belt and Road cooperation agreement with China, and the country's Phoenix Park Industrial Estate is the first BRI project in the Caribbean.

The industrial park, Montoute said, coincides with the vision of the Caribbean country's government, which values "consistent high quality foreign direct and domestic investment" as "key to sustained growth."

Designed and built by China's Beijing Construction Engineering Group, the industrial estate covers an area of about 580,000 square meters. Its proximity to the port and modern infrastructure is appealing to investors.

"The park offers opportunities for Trinidad and Tobago to expand and diversify its manufacturing base towards non-traditional manufacturing, as it will house between 60 and 80 factory shells, directly employ more than 4,500 persons and contribute about 1.6 billion U.S. dollars annually to GDP," she said.

Echoing remarks by Foreign Minister Amery Browne, Montoute believes that this facility will serve as a model project for similar initiatives in the Caribbean.

The expert said that Caribbean countries are similar in many ways, all small in size, with small populations and limited bases.

"Caribbean countries share similar challenges that BRI projects could help overcome or alleviate," Montoute noted, looking forward to visiting China soon.

She described the BRI as a reflection of China's pursuit of a multidimensional, comprehensive and holistic global engagement, in keeping with the changing landscape.

"Also, the Belt and Road Initiative does not have a set of broad ideological conditions which countries must adhere to in order to participate," Montoute said.

"Technically, that means that model allows countries to develop projects with China that are specific to their needs," she added.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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