Trinidad and Tobago is set to receive an economic boost following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Monday between China’s Beijing Construction Engineering Group Co. Ltd. (BCEG) and the Evolving Tecknologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (eTeck), for the development of the Phoenix Park Industrial Estate, Point Lisas.
The MOU was signed by BCEG’s deputy general manager Zhang Chuancheng and Steve De Las, president of eTeck, and was witnessed by Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon as well as Vice Mayor of Beijing, His Excellency Wang Ning, who led a delegation from China. The industrial park, to be constructed by BCEG, will be implemented by Lake Asphalt Limited and eTeck.
Gopee-Scoon, who held discussions with Wang Ning, stated that the signing serves to deepen the commercial relations between the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the People’s Republic of China, adding that events like these are significant for her ministry since they open the way for new commercial and foreign direct investments into Trinidad and Tobago, which are fundamentally important to the country’s economic development.
Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China will finance the industrial park through a loan agreement in the amount of US$104,295,000. Beijing Construction Engineering Group has guaranteed the operations of at least 10 Chinese firms, with interest expressed in the areas of the manufacturing of glass powder, air conditioners and ceramics, paper converting operations, wood processing, communication equipment, building materials, integrated housing manufacturing and food processing. In the construction of the industrial park, a commitment has been made by the company to use 60 percent local labour and to purchase at least 50 percent of the building materials in T&T.
According to Gopee-Scoon, “Once fully operational, the new park would provide space for 60 to 80 factory shells, directly employ over 4,500 persons, with one thousand persons expected to be employed during the construction phase,” and added that the development of the new industrial park is expected to be completed within 12 months, and one major international investor has already been identified for the site.
She added that the park’s establishment promotes Government’s diversification efforts as it targets firms in the areas of high-value and light manufacturing, logistics and warehousing, and emerging industries such as electronic technology, information technology, energy-saving ecological building materials and biotechnology.
In delivering remarks on behalf of the Government at the signing ceremony, Communications Minister Stuart Young expressed appreciation for the responsiveness of the Chinese Government and its investors, and their reciprocal visit coming one month after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s visit to China in May. Young also highlighted T&T’s lead role as the first country in the region to sign on to the Belt and Road Initiative being implemented by the Chinese Government.