The signing took place at the Business Conference of the third China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh signed the agreement on Guyana’s behalf while China’s Commerce Minister Chen Deming signed on behalf of his country.
President Bharrat Jagdeo is leading the Guyana delegation at the forum and during his address he called on the Caribbean as a collective group to pursue a non-reciprocal trade agreement or a partial scope agreement with China, similar to the one that exists between Guyana and Brazil.
Addressing the conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the President told government and business leaders that because of the small size of combined regional economies in relation to that of the Asian economic giant, the top 30 or 40 export commodities of the region could be given an ease from attracting duty on imports into China. This, he said, would have a minimal effect on China but will generate significant wealth in the region because of economic size.
Jagdeo also called for a trade regime that would encourage value-added activity in the region, which he contended will narrow the trade gap that exists between China and the Caribbean. “Several key issues must be identified, he said, and then by timetable, all must work to ensure that they are implemented and practical changes are made visible before the time of the fourth economic forum in four years,” he said. Calling for a structured engagement with China moving forward, Jagdeo urged regional governments to ensure that any such agreement is driven by private enterprise.