This was disclosed by Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Suruj Rambachan, following the signing of a $210 million concessional loan agreement between TT and China for the completion of infrastructural work on the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port-of-Spain.
Speaking after the signing of the agreement at the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre yesterday, Rambachan did not rule out the possibility of the Prime Minister leading a trade mission to China, or accepting an offer extended to her by the Chinese government for a state visit there.
Recalling that Persad-Bissessar will lead a trade mission to Brazil next month on the invitation of British Gas which plans to invest US$30 billion there over the next five years, Rambachan said: “You are going to find more and more of these targeted trade missions taking place over the next couple of months.”
Stating that Persad-Bissessar has accepted the challenge to lead these delegations, Rambachan said, “The reality is that we cannot sit down in TT and hope to achieve the goals that we set out to achieve as a Government. we have to go out there and be part of the action and market TT.” He added that Persad-Bissessar spearheading these missions strengthens their integrity and allows for direct interaction “at the highest level with the community of business persons in those countries who want to do business in TT.” The minister added that TT hopes to establish an embassy in Beijing by year’s end.
On the agreement, Rambachan said there was no hesitation by the Chinese to offer this loan in spite of the fact that the Partnership criticised NAPA’s construction during last year’s general election campaign. The minister said while those criticisms regarded the use of money, the reality is that NAPA is here and “the best use has to be made of it.”
He added that far from expressing reservations, the Chinese are “willing to do so much more in terms of concessional loans and deepening the bilateral relations.” Rambachan disclosed that Finance Minister Winston Dookeran is currently in Canada speaking with officials of the Exim Bank of China. Rambachan also said the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business (GSB) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Education Tourism and Business of International Cooperation Centre of China last December which will allow “our students will be exposed to lectures, Chinese companies and develop a closer appreciation of the Chinese culture.”
Chinese Asst Commerce Minister Li Rongcan noted that NAPA hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting’s opening ceremony on November 26, 2009 and that the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts should be opened later this year. When NAPA was officially opened on November 9, 2009, then Prime Minister Patrick Manning said NAPA and its sister academy in San Fernando cost US$130 million ($818 million).