SINT MAARTEN (MAHO) – Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Stuart Johnson spoke at the Caribbean China People Foundation seminar that opened on Wednesday and will conclude on Thursday. Johnson told the attendees the following:
“I am pleased to address you this morning on the New Perspective of the Caribbean Seminar dealing specifically with Island Ecology and the Economy. The combined efforts of the Caribbean China People Foundation and the Beijing International Exchange Association Sustainable Development Committee promotes the real value of service to others and fosters sustainable development.
“This concept is welcomed by the St. Maarten Government whose Governing Program 2018 – 2022 is entitled Building a Sustainable St. Maarten. We believe that the sustainable future of St. Maarten rests heavily on our ability to restore social norms, provide adequate healthcare, cost-efficient and environmentally sound energy and waste disposal solutions and foster more significant trade and investment relationships.
“This is outlined in the Governing program. Guided by the governing approach of the Governing Program, we continue to and implement policies for the improvement of the health and wellbeing of all of our people.
“Since being devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, St. Maarten has seen even more the actual value of international relationships and in particular, the benefit of relationships with key strategic partners whose influence and investments significantly improve our future economic outlook.
“It is with this in mind that I commend the Chinese nation and its people for the continued healthy relationship between both countries. I am pleased to note that the relationship between China and St. Maarten has significantly increased over the past 15 years.
“Many of you here this morning, are aware that as a policy, since 1999 the Chinese Government set out to assist developing countries in the Caribbean in areas such as green energy, technology and social wellness programs.
“We here in St. Maarten and other parts of the Caribbean have benefited significantly from trade in goods and foreign direct investment along with excellent development support for major projects such as the Airport in Antigua and the rapid reconstruction of the Sonesta Ocean Point and Sonesta Maho Resort, Casino & SPA to name just a few.
“This approach to investment overseas by China called the Going Out Policy has prompted economists to predict that we can expect the Caribbean to grow up to three times as fast as developed economies over the next ten years.
“For this, I must commend the forward thinking of the Government and People of China. Because, while most developed nations tend to attract investments to their country, China continues to encourage its businesses to spend their money on investments abroad.
“It is safe to say that the Chinese St. Maarten relationship will only grow stronger and will continue to be mutually beneficial.
“As Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications I encourage you to consider during your dialogue over the next few days, ways and means by which both countries can solve some of our development challenges.
“I encourage you to do so with great appreciation for the already robust trade relationship between our Country and China and to concentrate on ways to improve our use of green energy, reduce our carbon footprint and preserve the environment in which we all live.
“I am confident that you will have fruitful discussions and arrive at positive outcomes for the benefit of our people. Thank you and may God continue to bless our two nations.”