Spin-off benefits are also expected to be derived in the areas of micro, small and medium-sized business development with a greater opportunity to expand opportunities for growth in those areas.
MACAO, Special Administrative Region, PRC – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, the Hon. Philip Davis and The Bahamas’ delegation to the Sixth International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum and the First China/CELAC Infrastructure Cooperation Forum arrived safely in this picturesque and booming peninsula off mainland China Wednesday, (Macao time) ready to dialogue with officials from China and the many other global and regional countries attending both conferences on the opportunities included in a five-year cooperation agreement that will run from 2015-2019.
Macao is one of two Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Hong Kong is the other. The time differential between Macao and The Bahamas is 12 hours ahead.
More than 1300 senior government officials and representatives from China and around the globe are attending the two Fora which will address key areas for cooperation over the next five years in sectors such as energy, infrastructure development — including the construction of roads, ports, harbours and bridges, tourism, agriculture, transportation, security and trade, financial services and investment.
All of these areas are considered critical to the future socio-economic development of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and many of the other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that comprise the Caribbean.
The agreement which, among other things, promotes cooperation/collaborations on infrastructural developments, particularly among Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean, is of particular interest to The Bahamas which faces certain challenges as it relates to infrastructural and other development that other SIDS in the region do not face because of its geographic composition.
China aims to inject almost three quarters of a Trillion U.S. Dollars ($500Billion U.S. Dollars of bilateral trade with CELAC Countries and $250Billion U.S. Dollars of direct investment into the region) over the next decade under the China-CELAC Cooperation Agreement.
Deputy Prime Minister Davis said given all that is going on globally, within the region and specifically within The Bahamas, it was important for The Bahamas – as one of the many Small Island Developing States within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)- to be able to at least sit at the table and be a part of the discussions and dialogue that will take place with regards to financing and cooperation for the many projects that will have to be undertaken to ensure the continued growth and development of The Bahamas specifically, and indeed the region.
“First of all, given the economies of scale that are being put out there and the concessionary rates being applied to those loans, and the number of major infrastructural developments that are required, it may perhaps require the Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean getting together and putting packages together so as to benefit because it may not be economical for them to do it by themselves,” Mr. Davis said.
“So SIDS, having regard to our economies of scale and the looming challenge of debt creation and what that debt creation can do to growth in small economies such as those of SIDS — linking with and tapping into the resources that China has and is willing to make available can perhaps assist in growing regional economies,” Mr. Davis added.
Deputy Prime Minister Davis said many of the areas of cooperation to be discussed are of importance to The Bahamas. Macao’s economy, for example, has been growing by leaps and bounds particularly in the area of Tourism where the peninsula has recorded four consecutive years of attracting 29 million visitors to its shores annually. That figure increased to a record 31 million visitors in 2014. Home to almost 600,000 persons, Macao has 25,000 hotel rooms/suites in its inventory.
The peninsula is also very high on the use of alternative forms of electricity generation – wind, water, solar – which the Deputy Prime Minister said is also crucial to the way forward for The Bahamas as the Government continues to move towards facilitating reductions in “high” energy costs within The Bahamas.
Finding other, less expensive forms of alternative energy while increasing infrastructure development within the Family Islands will also have a positive impact on advancing the socio-economic development of Family Island communities. Those discussions are also scheduled to take place.
“There is no doubt that positive infrastructural development, drives socio-economic development in countries where that infrastructure development is in place,” Mr. Zhang Xiangchen, Deputy China International Trade Representative (Vice Ministerial Level), Ministry of Commerce, China, said.
Deputy Prime Minister Davis said the discussions on trade and investment, on ways to improve transportation development, particularly in the Family Islands, on urban development, agriculture, industry, science and technology and education, will assist The Bahamas in determining the best way forward with regards to its future development.