China to help Guyana build international conference centre By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
September 20, 2002

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CHINA has agreed, based on a request from the Government, to provide assistance for the construction of a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art international conference centre in Guyana.

It will be located in the vicinity of the new Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat Headquarters at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.

This is believed to be the largest project in the history of bilateral relations between the Republic of Guyana and the People's Republic of China, which are this year marking 30 years of diplomatic ties, economic and technical cooperation.

Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation, Mr. Clement Rohee and Chinese Ambassador, Mr. Song Tao appended their signatures yesterday to phase one of the agreement, paving the way for the construction of the centre.

This first phase, valued at 600,000 Renminbi Yuan (US$70,000), will facilitate the dispatching of a team of Chinese consultants to Guyana to carry out a preliminary survey for the centre.

Ambassador Tao, in brief comments prior to the signing, noted that the arrangement has reached the “signing-stage” after friendly consultations "between our two governments".

Among those present at the signing ceremony, which took place in the main Conference Room at Takuba Lodge, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were Prime Minister Sam Hinds; officials from the Chinese Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Mr. Brian James; Mr. Tarchand Balgobin and Mr. Nirmal Rekha of the Finance Ministry and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Ms. Sonia Roopnauth.

Rohee expressed "deep gratitude and appreciation" for the generous assistance provided by the Government of China to the Government and People of Guyana.

According to him, the centre will be built in such a way as to provide "state-of-the-art conference support facilities for meetings hosted by the Government of Guyana, the CARICOM Secretariat and by local, regional and international organisations".

To bring the project into reality, Rohee said two sets of `Exchange of Notes' have to be signed.

"The first set of exchange of notes (signed yesterday) will facilitate the dispatching of a team of nine consultants who will conduct a feasibility study on the project (and) the expenses incurred in this phase…(amount to) approximately US$70,000, while the second exchange of notes will be signed during the Eighth Session of the Guyana-China Joint Commission, which will be convened during the first quarter of 2003 in Beijing, China."

Rohee said preparations have already begun for the convening of this joint commission meeting "which promises to be a historic event". In the meanwhile, the two countries are preparing jointly to further strengthen their bilateral relations by exploring new areas of cooperation, he said.

He noted too, that over the years, the Government of Guyana has benefited extensively from economic and technical cooperation with China in a number of areas. These include the Mocha Mocha Hydro Power Station; Chinese investment projects, including the Sanata Textile Mill, the Clay Brick Factory, a Bicycle Assembly Plant and a Vegetable Farm; interest free loans; technical cooperation for developing countries; technical training awards for Guyana and more recently, the signing of a trade agreement.

In addition, Rohee said a draft Bilateral Investment Treaty is currently being negotiated between the two sides.

The Minister also said it is appropriate to note that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Guyana.

"Guyana's relations with China is premised on the one-China policy. Both countries have over the three decades enjoyed friendly and fruitful bilateral relations in the areas of diplomatic activities, trade, economic and technical cooperation (and) the signing… marks another milestone in the relations…which will contribute significantly to the deepening of regional integration (and)…relations between our two countries," he said.