Finally, the APNU+AFC Government has released the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, signed with China to facilitate the infamous Belt and Road Initiative. The MOU was signed on July 27, last.
The MOU will remain in force for a three year period and shall be automatically extended for subsequent three year periods indefinitely unless terminated by either party with written notice.
The document states that China and Guyana will work together within the Belt and Road Initiative to realize mutual economic development and translate mutual complementary strengths into advantages for practical cooperation and sustainable growth.
“This will enable the Parties (Guyana and China) to enhance their political relations, economic ties, and security cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.”
The MOU also allows for strengthened cooperation and enhanced regional connectivity, joint establishment of an open, inclusive, balanced, and mutually beneficial economic cooperation framework in order to maintain international and regional peace, security, stability and sustainable development.
The Parties are expected to promote bilateral cooperation based on and guided by the following principles extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.
Importantly, the MOU says that in accordance with the respective party’s applicable domestic law and regulations which are consistent with their respective international obligations and commitments, “the Parties will ensure the unfettered progress of related cooperation projects to enhance their economic and social development.”
Further, the MOU states that in accordance with the concept of cooperation, development and win-win progress under the Belt and Road Initiative, “the Parties will make full use of existing bilateral cooperation mechanisms, multilateral mechanisms that they both participate in, and any relevant regional cooperation platforms to form synergy and provide each other with support.”
There was also a provision for policy coordination.
The MOU states, “The Parties will regularly communicate and promote the synergy and integration of their major development strategies, planning and policies, as well as strengthen communication and coordination of the respective important or major policy framework.
The MOU also “facilities connectivity;” it says “the Parties will cooperate and exchange ideas regarding infrastructure connectivity and development in areas of mutual interest, including but not limited to road and railway networks, bridges, civil aviation, maritime transport, harbours and ports, energy and telecommunications.”
Under the MOU, the Parties will enhance international trade and investment initiatives and expand two-way investment and trade flows between them, further deepen investment, trade and industrial cooperation, explore ways and methods to promote substantive mutual beneficial cooperation, and encourage their businesses to build, operate and/or participate in exchange, initiate and develop the sister critics networks.
Guyana and China also agreed that there be people-to-people bond. “The Parties will promote people-to-people cooperation and exchange, initiate and develop the sister critics networks; The Parties may conclude cooperation agreements on education, health, tourism, public welfare or other relevant fields and the Parties will enhance exchange and cooperation between their local governments, media, think-tanks, and the youths, and continue to promote the development cooperation related to public welfare.
A few months ago, President David Granger told the media that Guyana is going to be prudent in its approach to projects under the Belt and Road Initiative which is developing a reputation on the international stage as a debt trap for small nations of interest to China.
However, the President said that he is not worried about what is going on in other jurisdictions; his focus is on Guyana.
Granger noted that Guyana’s relations with China go way back. He recalled that this country was the first English-speaking nation in the Caribbean to establish relations with China. “We always had cordial relations. We never varied our commitment to the One China policy.”
That policy is rooted in the fact that Guyana supports China’s claim to Taiwan.
Granger was keen to note, “The project that is under consideration now is a concept paper.”
He also said, “I am not worried about what happens in other countries. There is the saying, ‘beware if you are going to take a loan or enter into an agreement with a foreign country.’ You have to take care that you get the best deal for your people.”
The President continued, “So there is no concept or prospect of extravagance. If other countries have had financial difficulties I cannot explain how much they borrowed, why they borrowed, what they intend to do with it.
“Right now Argentina is facing financial difficulties which have nothing to do with the Chinese Belt and Road project.”
The President stressed that many countries are facing economic difficulties “so I do not feel it is fair to blame one project for the plight of so many different countries.” He was reacting to the fact that many countries took China’s money and cannot repay. They are so indebted that China is taking control of the assets in that borrowing country.
Granger said that the government “must go into these agreement with its eyes wide open.”
He said that there is need for infrastructure. “Our longest river is 1000 kilometres long—the Essequibo—but there is not a single bridge. We have to build a bridge. We have to build a railway or a road link to the Rupununi which is our largest region.
“We cannot develop without infrastructure and we just do not have the capital to do it on our own. So whether it comes from America, China or Britain we have to have it, and of course we have to look for the best deal.
He assured that any agreement he signs will not impoverish the people of Guyana.
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