The much-anticipated third annual Avalon Invest Caribbean Now 2013 Forum, held here on June 5, with representatives from the Chinese government and the Chinese-American business community as well as investment companies. All had come courting a very receptive audience composed of dozens of Caribbean tourism ministers, private-sector partners and government policy makers. Rufus Ewing, premier of the Turks and Caicos, who outlined the investment opportunities in his destination. The event included a panel titled “China and the Caribbean” had been organized by the Hard Beat Communications, Sino-American Friendship Association and Caribbean Tourism Organization during Caribbean Week. The panel was also supported by The Chinese American Business Development Center, (CABDC) and the American Chinese Commerce Development Association, (ACCDA). Arthur Piccolo of the New Sports Group moderated the forum.
In 2012, China invested $9 billion in various projects in the Caribbean, a 9.4% increase over 2011, added to the hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, grants and other forms of economic assistance it had already channeled in the past decade, according to Li Li, managing director of the Chinese American Business Development Center. “We are eager to continue to do business with the Caribbean,” she said. Mr. Liu, Xiaoguang, consul in charge of economic and commercial affairs of the Consulate General of China in New York, stated that “Chinese president Xi Jinping pledged more than $3 billion in loans in 2013 to 10 Caribbean nations and Costa Rica during his recent visit to Trinidad,” she said. “In the next two years in the Caribbean, China will invest in agricultural centers and the hospitality industry, set up 1,000 scholarships to medical students, develop sports facilities and computer centers and invest in secondary schools on several islands.”
Mr. Lin, Jianxin, President of the American Chinese Commerce Development Association said “in recent decade many Chinese enterprises have invested in Caribbean. Currently Caribbean countries and China has strong complementarities in economy.”Johnny Liu, Vice President of the American Chinese Commerce Development Association also attended the panel.
The Caribbean region is just as eager for Chinese tourists as it is for Chinese investments. As CTO Chairwoman Beverly Nicholson-Doty pointed out, “We in the Caribbean have the vacation formula down pat. We know how to do that. How can we prepare for the Chinese visitor?” Direct airlift from China to the Caribbean is the biggest challenge, said Liu, Xiaoguang, consul in charge of economic and commercial affairs of the Consulate General of China in New York. “If the lift materializes, prepare your airports and get ready for the invasion,” he said. “Chinese travelers made 70 million overseas trips in 2011,” Liu said. “That figure could top 100 million by 2015. To attract and cater to even a small portion of these travelers, Caribbean resorts must adapt to the Chinese visitor.
The President of Sino-American Friendship Association, Peter Zhang stated “that both China and the Caribbean nations want to strengthen the collaboration and communication between the two regions in order to establish a mutually beneficial relationship. 2013 ICN Forum also coincides with President Xi’s visit to the Caribbean, which made the forum more meaningful than ever”. Many government officials from the Caribbean countries states the intention of seizing the opportunities presented by the forum in order to broaden the collaboration with China, and to welcome more Chinese friends to visit the Caribbean area. Many American, Caribbean and Chinese media outlets had covered this event, such as New York Daily News, Travel Weekly , Jamaica Gleaner, West Indies News, St. Lucia News, Caribbean Today etc.，and Chinese media Xinhua News, China News, People’s Daily, Sino News, Sinovision TV, China Press, World Journal etc.
The power quartet of (l. to r.) Sino-American Friendship Society president Peter Zhang; Turks and Caicos Islands premier Rufus Ewing; Xiaoguang Liu of the China Consulate in New York; and Chinese American Business Development Center managing Li Li during a break at the 2013 Invest Caribbean Forum.