The Trinidad Guardian / T&T has entered into a distributive agreement for products from Lake Asphalt of T&T (1978) Limited to be shipped to China.

This was announced yesterday at the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoU) between Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG) and Evolving Tecknologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (eTecK) for development of the Phonenix Park Industrial Estate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Port-of-Spain.

The park will cost some US$104 million and will be established on 133 acres. Financing will be done via concessional loan from China.

These initiatives follow the recent visit by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to China.

Speaking at a press briefing following the signing, Communication Minister Stuart Young said several other measures are to be implemented, including establishment of Chinese banks.

He said the distributive agreement and MoU are in keeping with China’s One Belt One Road initiative which will enable T&T to be a gateway to Central America and other parts of the region.

“We are about to invite five Chinese banks to see if we can get the financial sector going. We envisage Trinidad and Tobago to be a clearing house for the Chinese currency,” Young said, adding that discussions have been taking place for more than a year.

He said at least three of the top five banks in the world are based in China.

“We don’t see the introduction of Chinese banks having any but a positive effect on the banking sector in Trinidad and Tobago. It will introduce a level of competitiveness and the introduction of additional credit and banking facilities in Trinidad and Tobago once they are within the borders of our anti-laundering legislation,” Young said.

He said within a few weeks construction will begin on a Panamax dry docking facility at La Brea.

“We have exchanged documentation. We are in the process of reviewing it and it looks very favourable. For the first time we see state Chinese firms investing equity in Trinidad and Tobago,” Young said.

He said developments are also expected to take place in the airline industry and Government will make further announcements in the coming months as it works toward taking the country into an era of diversification.

Although T&T has been shipping asphalt for the past 70 years, Energy Minister Franklin Khan explained there proper marketing arrangements are now in place through the distribution agreement with China.

“This agreement provides for a minimum quantity of 15,000 metric tones per annum and that will increase with time. This will transform Lake Asphalt into a more profitable venture,” Khan said.

In giving further details of plans for the eTecK park, Young the concept of free zone is being explored with the intention of using 60 per cent local labour.

“We have also negotiated with Beijing to have ten Chinese firms come as the anchor tenants. It is not confined to Chinese businesses,” he added.

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