H. E. Brigadier President David Granger: Members of the diplomatic corps, executive members of the Chinese Association in Guyana, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to start by endorsing the remarks of His Excellency in paying tribute to the high quality of service of New Thriving.
I believe I can say that I have known New Thriving longer than I have known His Excellency. I used to publish a magazine over twenty years ago and my daughter at that time worked with me. She was the first person to do some talent spotting and she spotted a restaurant in Regent Street called New Thriving – and I trust her judgement in matters of Chinese food – and she told me this restaurant is going far; and we tracked New Thriving from Regent Street, Bourda, to Kitty, and here at Main Street and I think she’s still tracking New Thriving. But I’d like to congratulate New Thriving for its high quality of service over the last twenty years and I agree with the Ambassador that in years to come, together with the Chinese enterprises in Guyana, we’ll have a bigger New Thriving and more events like this one.
So I have a long record. I’ll go back into my files and show the management of New Thriving our earliest articles of twenty years ago; and my daughter is here. She can tell you what the food was like twenty years ago and she keeps coming back.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana extends greetings on this auspicious occasion of the Spring Festival and, of course, the celebration of the lunar New Year. I spoke to the Association of Chinese Enterprises last week and I would like to take this opportunity this evening to reaffirm the value that attaches to the longstanding relationship and to use the words I used last week – the ties were ties of blood, were ties of history and ties of friendship – and tonight we reaffirm to strengthen of those ties, the ties between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China.
I said then – and it’s a historical fact that persons of Chinese origin first came to this country over 163 years ago. Many of them came as labourers but they quickly graduated into other professions. Guyana and China’s system have had strong ties of friendship and, after we became a Republic in 1970, within two years we established diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China – and the history books will tell you the first English speaking country in the Caribbean to do so – and since then we have never wavered, we have never varied, we have never altered our policy towards One-China, People’s Republic of China. I think that deserves some applause. We are not for varying our relationship as friends; we are not for hopping from one country to another. We are a republic of principle.
We were the ones to support, in the General Assembly of the United Nations, the call for the recognition of the People’s Republic of China when it had been shut out of the councils of the international communities by other big powerhouses. Guyana, a small country, 84th largest country in the world, was able to throw its support behind the fourth largest country in the world- 44 years ago and we have never changed.
Since then we signed a number of cooperation agreements in the field of infrastructure, health, defence, river transportation, energy, culture, education and information technology. We’re no longer casual acquaintances; we are partners in economic development. The healthy relation and partnership that developed between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China has facilitated the deepening of the economic partnership between our two countries, especially since the turn of the century when we witnessed the spectacular economic growth of the People’s Republic of China, which is something of a modern economic legend.
China’s economic performance remains a source of inspiration to the people of Guyana. China has continued this impressive trajectory of growth. Its real growth in the growth of its gross domestic product for the period of 2010-2014 averaged an impressive 8.58 per cent. This was more than twice that of the growth in the global output and more than four times that of other advanced economies in the world for the corresponding period.
The phenomenal increase in output has formed increased trade with the rest of the world. China’s imports and exports have both increased by more than 40% over that period 2010-2014. Guyana’s friendship with China has benefited both states. China invested over US$180 million in Guyana in 2013 alone. China’s trade and investment have also benefited Latin America and the Caribbean. China has committed to the Caribbean over US$3 billion in concessionary financing for eight countries of the Caribbean. It also pledged US$250 billion investment for the countries in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). China has also committed to achieving a trade volume of US$ 500 billion with these countries by the end of 2019.
The Cooperative Republic of Guyana looks forward to deepening its relations with the People’s Republic of China. It looks forward to creating lasting economic partnerships, building on the solid relationship of the past forty-four years. We anticipate that through our financial engagements and through cooperation agreements signed between Guyana and China and other regional organizations; that development, trade, investment and cooperation can be further intensified.
Guyana is happy to join in the celebration of the Spring Festival at the start of the Year of the Monkey. The monkey as we know is smart; it is agile; it is dexterous; it is active; it is sprightly; it is curious, these are all important qualities that are needed, particularly by small countries such as Guyana as they advance their development in the complex and daunting global economic challenges such as declining commodity prices, the effects of climate change and reduced development assistance from traditional sources.
Economic agility and adaptability, greater ingenuity, exploring new economic horizons and livelier business activities cemented under economic partnerships from friendly and supportive countries such as the People’s Republic of China, would allow small economies such as ours to become more resilient and to circumvent and avoid pitfalls associated with those challenges. Guyana is therefore keen to deepen its economic partnership with friendly countries for our mutual benefit.
The Cooperative Republic of Guyana raises a toast to the People’s Republic of China on the occasion of its Spring Festival.
Please join me, ladies and gentlemen. If I could get some good white wine, thank you.
To friendship between Guyana and China!