THE Office of the Prime Minister disclosed today that China has agreed to deliver a Long Range Vessel to the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, to increase maritime border security and fights arms and drug smuggling. The vessel will arrive in the shortest possible time, and follows a request of China's Premier Li Keqiang by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who is currently on an official State visit to China. The following is the statement of the Office of the Prime Minister -
The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, expressed delight today after China promised to deliver a Long Range Vessel (LRV) to the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard in the shortest possible time.
"This is really good news," Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said she convinced Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, that the T&T Coast Guard needed two vessels to lock down this country's borders in light of the increase in arms and narco trafficking.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar led a T&T delegation to bilateral talks with the Chinese Premier and top officials of the Chinese Government at the Great Hall of the People here in Beijing today. The T&T delegation also included Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Dookeran, Minister of Trade and Industry, Vasant Bharath, and Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs, Kevin Ramnarine.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar came to the table in Beijing with a list of proposals, hoping to convince her Chinese counterpart to assist. "We are here today to further the partnership we started 40 years ago. I am hoping that you could use your good office to drive these projects," the Prime Minister added.
The Prime Minister said she was aware that China was building two LRVs and pleaded with Li Keqiang to sell one "in the shortest possible time." She also sought assistance from the Chinese in the establishment of a National Operations Centre (NOC), saying that a Chinese company was already interested in such a project.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar said a team from the T&T Coast Guard recently visited China and proposed that T&T acquire one LRV "right away." She told the Chinese Premier, "National Security remains the number one priority of my Government right now."
Both the Governments of China and Trinidad and Tobago will sit down and deal with the financing aspect of the purchase.
In her discussions, Mrs Persad-Bissessar also sought assistance with the following:
1) Construction and design of six new Economic Zones in Trinidad and Tobago.
2) Development of a trans-shipment Port and Dry Dock in South Trinidad.
3) Early processing of a loan agreement with the China Exim Bank so these projects can be expedited.
4) Construction of two new hospitals.
5) Removal of asphalt from the Pitch Lake in greater capacities.
The Prime Minister thanked the Chinese for the scanner for the Port, and said her Government was interested in purchasing more.
She said Trinidad and Tobago was strategically located to become the gateway of the Americas. This was something which aroused the attention
of the Chinese Premier. He said it was something which his Government would explore.
During the welcome ceremony, the Chinese Military Band played the T&T National Anthem, which according to some members of the T&T delegation, "sounded better than what is played at home."
During the banquet hosted by the Chinese Premier, the Military Band played "Portrait of Trinidad and Tobago" causing PM Persad-Bissessar to personally leave her table and speak to members of the band.
Four agreements were signed today in the areas of health, sport, energy and civil aviation.
THE PRIME MINISTER'S SCHEDULE FOR WEDNESDAY
11 am - Visit to the Forbidden City, Beijing.
12 noon - Opening of the T&T Embassy in Beijing.
2.30 pm - Visit to the China Agricultural University.
6 pm - Attend at banquet hosted by the President of China, His Excellency Xi Jingping.
10 pm - Departs for Shanghai.