[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett led a delegation to the First Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) – China Forum which is being held in Beijing, China on January 8-9, 2015.
The CELAC-China Forum is a bi-regional mechanism aimed at promoting cooperation between the CELAC Member States and China in a wide range of areas including: training of human resources; transfer of technology; infrastructure development; climate change; energy, natural resources; cultural exchanges and agriculture.
The Government of China, in collaboration with regional financial institutions will provide concessional financing for many of the projects developed within the framework of this mechanism.
The decision to develop this bi-regional mechanism was taken by the Heads of State and Government of the region at the 2nd CELAC Summit which was held in Havana, Cuba in January, 2014. Six months later the CELAC – China Forum was officially launched in Brasilia in the margins of the BRICS Summit in July, 2014.
The President of China, Xi Jinping chaired the opening ceremony which was also attended by H.E. Luis Guillermo Solis, the President of Costa Rica and Pro Tempore Chair of CELAC; the Honourable Perry Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas and the current CARICOM representative on the CELAC Quartet; H.E. Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador and incoming Pro Tempore Chair of CELAC and; H.E. Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela.
The meeting which was held under the theme “New Platform, New Starting Point, New Opportunity – Joint Efforts to Promote China-Latin America and the Caribbean Partnership of Comprehensive Cooperation”, adopted three main documents: the Beijing Declaration, the Operating Rules of the Forum, and The 2015-2019 Plan of Action.
Speaking at the historical Forum, Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said: “We are encouraged by the potential role of the CELAC-China Forum in promoting increased South-South cooperation between China and the Latin America and Caribbean region. The proposed areas for cooperation cover in large part our common interest and once implemented will redound to the growth and development of our peoples. We in Guyana see great value in the initiatives as outlined in the Cooperation Plan and embrace all opportunities afforded to be part of such collaboration.”
She also concurred with the Chinese Foreign Minister that the easiest part is completed (the Cooperation Plan) and highlighted the need for the plan to be converted into workable projects which must be implemented with alacrity so that there can be an early harvest.
The Minister also took the opportunity to mention the issue of Climate Change.
“Not to underestimate the importance of the other areas listed in the Plan but since it is the greatest challenge of our times, I must refer to the issue of climate change. Guyana, as a low lying coastal developing state together with our Caribbean colleagues are pleased that climate change is given prominence in the Cooperation Plan since we are very vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Indeed several of the most vulnerable countries in the world are found in the Caribbean. The consensus that Caribbean States must be treated differently is therefore welcomed.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, H.E. Mr. Wang Yi also met with the Caribbean Ministers in a special private meeting to discuss issues of interest to the Caribbean countries vis-a-vis the Forum.