Minister Pennelope Beckles receives a gift from Ambassador Fang Qiu of the Embassy of The People’s Republic of China during the Courtesy Call

Newly-appointed Minister of Planning and Development Pennelope Beckles met with Chinese Ambassador Fang Qui to discuss how this country can benefit from China’s Global Development Plan. According to a press release from the Ministry of Planning the initiative identified eight priority areas of cooperation and charted feasible pathways to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda which included poverty alleviation, COVID-19 response and vaccines, climate change and green development.

The following is a press release from the Ministry of Planning and Development:

Newly-appointed Minister of Planning and Development, the Hon. Pennelope Beckles, hosted a courtesy meeting with His Excellency Fang Qiu, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China on Monday 21st March, 2022. Also at the meeting were the Permanent Secretary Joanne Deoraj, Deputy Permanent Secretary Marie Hinds and representatives of the Technical Corporation Unit of the Ministry of Planning and Development. The focus of the meeting was to determine how Trinidad and Tobago can benefit from The People’s Republic of China’s Global Development Initiative (GDI).

This initiative identifies eight priority areas of cooperation, and charts feasible pathways to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The eight priority areas are:  poverty alleviation, COVID-19 response and vaccines, climate change and green development, digital economy, food security, development finance, industrialisation and connectivity. The discussions highlighted potential Technical Cooperation for Trinidad and Tobago in the areas of digital economy, food production; urban development, the blue economy, the establishment of Greenhouse Industrial Parks, and industrialisation.

Minister Beckles took the opportunity to extend gratitude and appreciation on behalf of the people of Trinidad and Tobago to the government and people of China, for their kind donation of COVID-19 vaccines, as the Vaccines allowed us to reach a point where we are at a much better position in the fight against the virus”. Both Governments underscored the need for food security in the current prevailing economic and other global conditions. It is a fact that supply chain disruptions and increases in the cost of raw materials have further impacted Trinidad and Tobago’s food import bill. Minister Beckles said, “The potential for a collaboration in the area of agriculture could be beneficial for the reduction of Trinidad and Tobago’s food bill, through community agriculture programmes and youth programmes such as the Youth Agricultural Homestead Programme (YAHP)”. 

His Excellency, Fang Qiu stated he is very confident that some level of support will be forthcoming to assist the Government in addition to the already existing partnership with the Chinese Government in the area of agriculture and agro processing. Expressed by the Chinese delegation, was the opportunity for training via virtual courses along with a partnership agreement with the University of the West Indies, in the discipline of Agricultural Science. These training opportunities will provide technical advice on greenhouses with the aim of having these deployed across the country.

Both governments expressed the heightened need for reliable ICT Infrastructure to support virtual learning, bridge the digital divide, increase productivity levels while working from home, and improve government operations and access to e-Government services. Minister Beckles said, “The Global Development Initiative (GDI) is timely and fits all pillars that exist within the National Development Strategy.” Potential projects proposed by the Ministry’s team identified for Technical Cooperation included but were not limited to: expanding free Wi-Fi across the country; improved online learning, using digital textbooks; building an open-source repository, and a new government portal.

The potential for collaboration with the Port Spain Revitalisation Project was also highlighted. Minister Beckles stated, “It is important to establish the city of Port of Spain as the brand of Trinidad and Tobago where it reflects the level of development the country has achieved.” Ambassador Fang Qiu, endorsed this view and expressed his hopes to expedite this project to enhance Port of Spain. The Ambassador also shared interest in submitting a proposal for support towards the Blue Economy in the areas of exploration, research and development, seafood processing, and tourism. Permanent Secretary Deoraj, indicated that the proposal is apt towards the work being undertaken by the Ministry in the sphere of environmental preservation.

The Chinese Government’s Global Development Initiative (GDI) is synergistic with the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Development Strategy: Vision 2030; it is also in keeping with the Road Map to Recovery Report. One of the key principles of the GDI is “no country and no one should be left behind”. This key principle speaks directly to Theme I of Vision 2030 – ‘Putting People First: Nurturing Our Greatest Asset’ and directly impacts Themes I, II and IV. It also paves the path attainment of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).