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Speaking Notes at the Press Briefing on the Forum

By H.E.Ambassador Zhao Zhenyu

2004-11-05 00:00

1. Opening Remarks.

I am very pleased to be at today's press briefing on the Forum organized by MFAFT. I am particularly pleased to see Minister Knight being with us on this occasion. This once again shows the importance the Jamaican Government attaches to the Forum. Here I'd like to tell our media friends that the Chinese Government attaches the same importance to the Forum. In order to add luster to this important event, the Vice President of the People's Republic of China H.E. Mr. Zeng Qinhong will pay an official visit to Jamaica early next February. As the highest-level Chinese leader to visit Jamaica over the past 32 years since two countries established diplomatic ties, Vice President Zeng will attend and also address the first ministerial conference of the Forum.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our friends in the Jamaican Planning Committee for the Forum led by Amb. Peter Black for their hard and efficient work. The same preparation is being made in China as well. Following China's first advance team's visit to Jamaica in August, the second one is coming to Kingston on November 24. I have every reason to believe that with concerted efforts by our two governments the Forum will be a big success.

2. Background of the Forum.

In January 2003 Mme. Wu Yi, the then State Councilor and currently Vice Premier of China visited 8 English-speaking Caribbean countries. Following the visit, there has been a sharp increase in economic and trade activities as well as the exchange of high-level visits between China and the Caribbean region. At present, China and the Caribbean countries are enjoying the best bilateral relations in the historic perspective, including economic and trade. The trade volume between both sides reached US$1.4 billion in 2003 (an increase of 30.14%) and US$898 million in the first half of 2004(an increase of 39.44%). For the purpose of keeping this sound momentum and bringing our economic and trade ties even stronger, the Chinese Government proposed the establishment of "China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum". The proposal has received wide support from the Caribbean countries.

3. About the Forum.

The Forum is a ministerial-level conference that convenes every 3-4 years in China or a Caribbean country.

The theme of the Forum is to PROMOTE ECONOMIC AND TRADE COOPERATION FOR COMMON DEVELOPMENT.

The Forum is cosponsored by the Chinese and the Jamaican Governments. Both Governments have set up a Preparatory Committee respectively. The Chinese Preparatory Committee consists of the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of FA, Council for Promotion of International Trade and 8 other ministerial-level departments. The Jamaican Preparatory (Planning) Committee consists of MFAFT and 10 ministerial-level departments. The participants of the Forum include senior government officials, functionaries of the trade and investment promotion agencies, entrepreneurs and representatives from the competent regional organizations. The Chinese Government will send a 150-200-member delegation to Kingston. 16 governments in the Caribbean region have been invited to the Forum. Up to now, Suriname, Guyana and Dominica have confirmed that they will send senior government delegations to attend the Forum. Other Caribbean countries are positively considering the participation in the Forum by sending government delegations.

The first session of the Forum will be held during Feb.2-3, 2005 in Kingston at the Conference Centre.

At the Forum, there will be workshops divided in 6 areas: investment & trade, tourism, aviation, agricultural and fishing cooperation, finance and human resources.

4. The Forum's Website (cncforumenglish.mofcom.gov.cn).

To publicize the Forum and its activities, the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Ministry of FAFT of Jamaica have jointly set up a Forum Website, which was officially launched on November 1. One can find relevant information about the Forum from it and also make online registration.

5. The Forum's logo.

It has been agreed by the Chinese and Jamaican sides that the Forum should have a logo so as to vividly reveal the sound and cooperative economic and trade relations between China and the Caribbean region. The Chinese side has selected 2 logo designs from 38 across the country, while the Jamaican side has selected 2 logo designs from the Caribbean countries. These 4 designs will compete for the final logo. The final selection will be made through joint appraisal of the Chinese and Jamaican governments.

6. The Business Conference.

The Forum has two supporting events: Business Conference and Trade Fair.

As a part of the Forum, the Business Conference will take place on Feb.3 (for a whole day) at the Jamaica Conference Centre. The Conference consists of an opening ceremony with the presence of senior officials of various countries, a plenary session with keynote speeches from political and business leaders, parallel workshops on "How to Do Business with China" and "the Caribbean Investment Environment" featured by direct dialogue and interaction among businessmen and a Business Networking Meeting ( a Business Matchmaking Meeting).

7. Trade Fair.

The Trade Fair will start from Feb. 2 to 5 in the National Arena of Kingston, displaying exhibits of China and the Caribbean in a total of over 80 both with a floor space of over 2000 square metres. The main exhibits include mechanical and electronic products, communication and information and hi-tech products, household appliances, light industry products, handicrafts, textile and garments (with emphasis on travel-related products), agricultural and primary products and bio-pharmaceutical technology and products etc.

Up to Nov.5, 25 Chinese enterprises have registered for the Fair and reserved 60 booth.

8. Outbound Tourism.

China's outbound tourism has been developing steadily in the past few years. The number of country's outbound travelers in 2003 was 20.2 million, increasing by 22% compared with the previous year. Among the total, 14.8 million made private tours with an increase of 47%. China has become a fast growing, new tourist generating country in Asia.

By Sept. 1, 2004, Chinese citizens are allowed to travel to 54 countries and regions in organized tourist groups. The World Tourism Organization forecasts that China will become the number one tourist destination and the fourth largest tourist generating country in the world by the 2020.

I expect Jamaica will soon be listed by the Chinese Government as another travel destination country. I am sure Jamaica will benefit from the tourism cooperation between China and Jamaica.

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