Even as the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nation turns to Beijing for future project financing, Suriname is seeking to achieve an agreement with Beijing on its unpaid debt to the Asian nation.
President Chandrikapersad Santokhi said at a ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Wednesday night: “Based on our strategic cooperative partnership and long-standing bond of friendship, our government is confident that our countries will soon reach a mutually agreed debt restructuring agreement.”
Last week, Santokhi said in New York that Foreign Affairs Minister Albert Ramdin would travel to China in November to seek to find a solution to the debt situation.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Paramaribo a year ago made an offer to re-negotiate the US$545 million it owes China.
Santokhi, speaking at the Chinese Embassy, said that Suriname aims to establish cooperation in other areas as quickly as possible with Chinese financing based on the national development plan 2022 – 2026.
Chargé d’Affaires at the Chinese Embassy, Jia Jinyi said that China is willing to continue to strongly support Suriname, “and we look forward to taking our cooperation to the next level”.
He said that the Chinese support is in the context of several international large-scale projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organizations.
The Chinese diplomat said that China is convinced that Suriname’s economic future will improve given the recent “good news” within the oil sector.
Santokhi said that his administration will continue to strengthen the bilateral relationship with China based on trust and mutual respect, both at bilateral and multilateral levels.
Jia said that political exchanges between China and Suriname have become closer this year and that “the leaders of both countries have exchanged letters, further deepening strategic mutual trust and political guidance.”
Jia said economic and trade exchanges have also become more frequent, referring to the Suriname-China Investment Coordination Committee to facilitate Chinese investments in Suriname.
The pilot project of direct shipping between the two countries has already been deemed a success and the sixth cargo ship will soon leave the Chinese port of Tianjin for Paramaribo.
“As the world’s second-largest economy, the largest manufacturing country, the largest commodity trader and the holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves, China’s economy remains resilient, with great potential and vitality,” Jia said, adding that the fundamentals of China’s positive long-term economic outlook remain unchanged.
The diplomat referred to the World Economic Outlook Report which indicates that China’s contribution to global economic growth is expected to reach a third this year.
“China is determined to deepen reform and opening-up and provide new opportunities for the development of the world with its new achievements on China’s path to modernization.”
In the field of education, Jai said 10 scholarships were provided in the past year and more than 200 Surinamese officials participated in training in China.