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Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)-China’s Plan to Achieve Peace and Prosperity for All – Dominica News Online

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Chinese Ambassador to Dominica Lu Kun

China will hold the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing from April 25 to 27, 2019. With the first BRF in 2017 a success, producing consensus on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and delivering fruitful outcomes, the second BRF is taking place in response to participating countries’ wishes and representatives from over 150 countries and over 90 international organizations, including 40 heads of state and government and about 360 minister-level officials (including one representative from the Dominican government), have confirmed their attendance. The theme for this year’s Forum is: Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.

 

What is the BRI?

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is a top-level platform under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was originally announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in 2013. The Belt and Road run through the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and developed European economic circle at the other, and encompassing countries with huge potential for economic development. The Silk Road Economic Belt focuses on bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe; linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia; and connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is designed to go from China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific in the other.

 

Five Cooperation Priorities

On the basis of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit, the BRI aims to promote policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds as the five cooperation priorities:

Policy coordination helps enhance intergovernmental cooperation and political trust, allowing the BRI participating countries to coordinate their development strategies and plans so as to push for major cooperation projects.

Facilities connectivity is a priority in the initiative. On the basis of respecting national sovereignty and security concerns of the countries involved, BRI participants will have their infrastructure development plans and technical standards aligned to form a infrastructure network linking sub-regions in Asia and connecting Asia, Europe, Africa and beyond.

Unimpeded trade is an important part of the initiative. Efforts will be made to facilitate trade, remove barriers to investment and trade and build an enabling business environment.

Financial integration helps strengthen financial cooperation and promote the development of a currency stability system, investment and financing system and credit information system in Asia. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund, among other financial organizations, are set up to finance connectivity-related projects.

People-to-people bond provides the public support for implementing the initiative. Efforts will be made to conduct cultural and academic exchanges, carry out human resources and media cooperation, and increase youth and women engagement in the initiative.

 

Why is the BRI So Popular?

The BRI has been the most popular global public good and most promising platform for international cooperation. So what makes it so important behind its growing popularity?

On the one hand, the BRI has opened a new area for international cooperation. The world today is experiencing profound changes unseen in a century. Protectionism and unilateralism are rising, and so are uncertainties and destabilizing factors. The BRI is a significant move China has taken to fully open itself under the new conditions, and it embodies China’s commitment to sharing development opportunities and outcomes with more countries in the world. As such, the BRI will help move economic globalization toward greater openness, inclusiveness, balance and win-win outcomes.

On the other, the BRI has created new impetus and opportunities for global growth. Since the outbreak of the international financial crisis in 2008, creating new growth drivers has become a task for the international community. The BRI aims to address the fundamental issue of promoting development by enhancing all-round connectivity.The latest studies by the World Bank and other international institutions suggest that the BRI cooperation will cut the costs of global trade by 1.1 to 2.2 percent. What is more, it will contribute at least 0.1 percent of global growth in 2019.

 

What Has Been Achieved?

Since its inception six years ago, the BRI has received strong endorsement and warm support of the international community. Its achievements are there to be seen. China has signed 174 BRI cooperation documents with 126 countries and 29 international organizations so far. China’s trade with and investment in the BRI participating countries exceed 6 trillion U.S. dollars and 80 billion U.S. dollars respectively. The 82 cooperation industrial parks built by China and the countries along the Belt and Road have created around 300,000 local jobs. Through Belt and Road cooperation, some countries now have their first motorways or modern railways, some has developed its own car industry, and some have seen an end to their longstanding power shortages. Abundant opportunities have been brought to those countries and people derive a sense of engagement, gain and happiness from the initiative.

 

Latin America and the Caribbean: Natural Extension of the BRI

The BRI was never meant to be limited to certain countries along certain routes as the idea was for participation and prosperity on a global scale ever since it was born. That makes the initiative open to all countries as well as international and regional organizations. Starting from 2017, when Chinese President Xi Jinping called Latin America the “natural extension of the Belt and Road” during his meeting with President of Argentina Macri, an increasing number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have joined the BRI. On January 22, 2018, the 2nd Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum issued the Special Statement on the Belt and Road Initiative, signaling that the BRI has formally extended to the Americas. On July 13, 2018, China and Dominica signed MOU on Belt and Road Cooperation. More recently, Barbados and Jamaica signed MOU with China in February and April respectively this year, bringing the number of countries in this region which signed BRI cooperation documents with China to 18, including 8 Caribbean Community members.

The BRI will bring tangible benefits to Latin America and the Caribbean according to the five cooperation priorities of the BRI. LAC countries are in need of restructuring to promote a more inclusive growth and revive the economy. Their development strategies can be well aligned with the BRI which attaches importance to capacity cooperation and innovative development. The BRI, with a focus on enhancing connectivity, can help with the integration process of LAC, removing the physical barriers to a more integrated LAC. Meanwhile, China is capable of providing patient capital to LAC where lack of fund and infrastructure are a immediate problem hindering faster growth.

Now, China and LAC are making great headway in their relations and cooperation. China has become LAC’s second largest trading partner and LAC has become China’s second largest overseas destination for investment, next only to Asia. China-LAC trade increased from 17 billion U.S. dollars in 2002 to 307 billion U.S. dollars in 2018. The cumulative stock of Chinese foreign direct investment in LAC reached over 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. The two sides are complementary in their economic development and there is so much potential for their future cooperation. The BRI will bring this sound economic cooperation to a new level.

 

BRI: The Road to a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind

Over 2000 years ago, when Chinese envoy and diplomat Zhang Qian traveled westward three times on what was later known as the Silk Road to as far as the Roman Empire, a seed of connection was sown. This route has witnessed trade, cultural exchanges and prosperity since then. Entering the 21st century, it is especially meaningful to rethink connectivity, to figure out ways to link each one of us so we can work together to achieve prosperity. This is a globalized world where global perspectives are valuable assets. Isolation leads to nowhere while openness and cooperation are the mainstream of our times. The Belt and Road Initiative is such a product that China provides as a solution to meeting global challenges in development. This seed of connection will continue to grow as more countries join this initiative and play their part. With all our efforts, the BRI will move the world towards peace, prosperity, openness, green development, innovation and more advanced culture. It will surely bring more opportunities to the world and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind advocated by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

 

For more information, please visit the official website of the BRI: https://eng.yidaiyilu.gov.cn/.





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Dominica

Mottley rejects US invitation to meet with select CARICOM countries – warns of attempts to divide region

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Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has warned of the attempt to divide the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping as some regional leaders get ready to meet with United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Tuesday.

Addressing a gala to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late Barbados prime minister and regional integrationist Errol W. Barrow on Saturday night, Mottley said that she is conscious that in the next week questions will be asked as to whether the Barbados foreign minister happened to be missing in a meeting in Kingston in Jamaica that will take place on Tuesday.

“We don’t look to pick fights. I don’t look to pick fights, but I am conscious that if this country does not stand for something, then it will fall for anything. As chairman of CARICOM, it is impossible for me to agree that my foreign minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of CARICOM are not invited. If some are invited and not all, then it is an attempt to divide this region,” Mottley said.

Earlier this week, Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith said Pompeo’s two-day working visit, which begins on January 21, is a commitment to strengthen relations with the Caribbean.

“We welcome the visit of Secretary Pompeo as a demonstration of the commitment of the United States of America to once more strengthen its engagement with Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. We truly look forward to this opportunity to engage and reinforce our longstanding ties,” she added.

Pompeo will hold talks with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness and senior members of his cabinet on the second day of the visit and is expected to give a policy speech on the Caribbean region’s critical importance to the United States, and the country’s renewed commitment to closer ties, based on shared values, interests and economic prosperity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said.

Both the Jamaica Gleaner and the Observer newspaper, quoting sources, said that Pompeo is also due to meet with several Caribbean leaders.

But a CARICOM source told the Caribbean Media Corporation that the regional grouping had not been formally invited to participate in the discussions during Pompeo’s visit.

Last year, Holness was among four Caribbean leaders – St. Lucia, the Bahamas and Haiti – who flew to Miami to meet with US President Donald Trump where they discussed the ongoing political situation in Venezuela where Washington is seeking to remove President Nicolas Maduro in favour of opposition leader Juan Guaido.

CARICOM leaders at their last summit in St Lucia last July reiterated their position of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

Mottley told the gala that she was conscious that when Errol Barrow stood and remarked that “we shall be friends of all and satellites of none,” little did he know that that statement would be embraced by every single prime minister of Barbados that succeeded him.

“It is as valid today, perhaps even more so than it was at the time of its initial delivery.  And I say so conscious that principles only mean something when it is inconvenient to stand by them.

“Conscious that this region must always cheek itself to ensure that we do not become the pawns of others, the satellites of others, but that we keep every most and uppermost in our minds what we must do for our people without simply becoming pawns on a chessboard for others to be able to benefit from,” she added.

The CARICOM chairman said that the sense of commitment to principle is what inspires the region to this position.

“And therefore, it didn’t take a lot of thought as to what our decision should be because this country does not pretend to be what it is not and does not pretend to have that which it doesn’t. But it does aspire to be sincere and to be correct and to be moral and to be principled.”

She told the audience that the expression delivered to the president of the United States “who offered to pay our dues to join the Organization of American States when  Barrow politely refused and said “in our part of the world where I come from, if you cannot afford the dues, you do not join the club.

“That is the Barbados first to which I speak,” she told the gala.





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Dominica

New modernized library to contain recording studio and center for performing artists

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A modernized library to include a center for performing artists and a recording studio is a plan that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said the government intends to bring to reality.

He told those gathered at the presentation of the Roseau Development Plan  on Monday past, that not having a fully functional library is not something that he’s happy about.

“One of my greatest disappointments is that we did not get to build a modern library at the time that we should have built it,” he said.

According to the prime minister, it was the government’s initial intention then to build a modern library during the construction of the State House and Dominica State College.

“I wanted to build something that even if you could not read and write you would want to go to the library and see what’s happening there,” he said.

But since that plan fell flat, PM Skerrit said his Dominica Labour Party government will instead “tie in now a centre for the performing arts and also to have a recording studio for the public”

According to him, there are a number of artistes in Dominica, people who write songs, those who can sing and do not have access to the facilities to bring out their natural talent.

He believes that the issue of a centre for performing arts in Dominica needs to be discussed.

 “If we have an event at the Arawak House of Culture where will our people rehearse and practice? “We need to have designated facilities for these kinds of things,” Skerrit added.

He said as a progressive nation the presence or absence of a national library in Dominica must to be addressed.

The public library located on Victoria Street was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and there have been plans by government to reconstruct the building.





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Dominica

Migrants in Dominica trained in emergency preparedness response and recovery

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Migrants are now able to assist in emergency preparedness, response and recovery in Dominica.

Over twenty immigrants to Dominica participated in a 5-day training last week organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and funded by the United States of America.

One of the Facilitators of the IOM, Chiara Milano said there is a considerable migrant population in Dominica as there is in most parts of the world who can be affected in times of disasters.

“So, whatever you do in preparing for possible crisis and emergencies needs to take into consideration this population which is faced with particular challenges in the case of emergencies,” she stated.

She explained that in case of crisis, a hurricane, landslides, volcano eruption, migrants can possibly affect in a number of ways compared to the national population.

She went on to point out that they may not speak the local language well enough to understand the alert, signs and instructions.

“We also know that migrants are key to a country’s recovery and this is why it is so important to include them into our emergency preparedness and response,” Milano indicated.

The participants were also trained to become trainers themselves, so that they can cascade this training and make it available to others.

Participants of the training came from the government, the Office of Disaster Management and colleagues from other IOM offices in the region.

This is the very first time such a training is being held in Dominica.





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