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Antigua wants China to partner on State-funded projects

Published:Sunday | January 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM

ST. JOHN’S,  Antigua, CMC – Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda has invited the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to invest more with the Government.

Browne made the call while speaking during recent high-level talks with Chinese diplomats and the president of the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC).

“Realising the increased traffic of tourist from Cruise Tourism, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda intends to capitalise on this increase and expand the tourism capacity of the island,” a Government statement said.

“To this end, the prime minister extended an invitation to the Chinese to partner with the Government to invest in the development of a small hotel project on the coast line.

“The project will see some capital coming from the government and the opportunity to invest was given to CCECC,” it added.

“The first floor could be utilise as your cooperate offices for the region and the rest of the multi-story building will be used as a hotel to facilitate home-porting,” the Prime Minister said.

He also suggested that CCECC,  with its strong ties with the people and government of Antigua and Barbuda, should seriously consider creating their regional headquarters in the country.

CCECC has offices in 89 countries, and “Antigua and Barbuda is a significant market”.

The Chinese delegation agreed that its presence is welcomed and appreciated having been on island for 12 years, the statement said.

Browne said such a project would be timely, “given the fact that Antigua and Barbuda has become one of the most important cruise tourism facility [facilities] in the Caribbean.”

He said the opportunities that can be derived from the continuous growth of the tourism sector are ones to be exploited, adding that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has partnered with a private firm to complete the purchase of a local dredging business.

Browne said significant amount of work is expected to be on dredging.  The St John’s Harbour will have to be dredged as a part of the port upgrades which are to cost around US$12 million, he said.

“We proposed that the job is given to that dredging company that is owned jointly by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and a private company out of the BVI [British Virgin Islands],” Browne said. “That company is assisting us to build a fifth cruise tourism birth at a cost of US$30 million dollars.

“We would like you to patronage this company with an investment similar to what the government has made available,” he told the Chinese delegation.  “We only purchased it because we have all this dredging work to do in the harbour.”

The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister said these two projects are “ideal opportunities for the CCECC to invest in,” strongly suggesting that they come on board.

After a quick discussion among the Chinese diplomats, the president of CCECC agreed that Antigua and Barbuda would be “a perfect location for a headquarters and continued business,” the statement said.