China vice foreign minister Zheng Zeguang with Pacific ministers. Cook Islands deputy prime minister Mark Brown (fifth from the left). 19050335
Cook Islands deputy prime minister and Finance minister Mark Brown led a delegation from the country to this year’s Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing from 25-27 April.
This year’s forum encouraged closer integration among member economies through promotion of transparency, adherence to the global rules-based multilateral system and greater economic connectivity with the broad aspiration to lift socio-economic outcomes for all through openness, inclusiveness and innovation.
Said deputy prime minister Brown, “China’s increased engagement with the Cook Islands and the Pacific over the last 20 years has highlighted the economic and geostrategic value of the Pacific, translating to elevated interest from both traditional and new partners which the Cook Islands welcomes. This has availed the Cook Islands additional opportunities in trade, diplomacy, development co-operation and investment which take on elevated levels of importance noting our imminent graduation from ‘developing’ to ‘developed’ status, as assessed by the OECD, in 2020.”
“I welcome the chosen theme for this year’s meeting of ‘Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.’ Our Pacific region is certainly rich in natural resources and we have vast potential in the areas of economic diversification, trade and investment which dovetails well with the offering of the Forum membership. I have been particularly heartened by the emphasis placed on innovation and sustainable development given our own development approach in the Cook Islands in recent years.”
This sentiment was supported by secretary of Finance and Economic Management, Garth Henderson, in assessing the Cook Islands attendance to this year’s Belt and Road Forum. “The forum, which involves China and some of the most developed economies in the world affords the Cook Islands and other Pacific countries attending the forum opportunities for expanding our own global economic and trade connectivity whilst at the same time, sharing our own development experiences.”
In addition to attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, DPM Brown held bilateral meetings with the Export-Import Bank of China, meeting with
chairperson Hu Xiaolian to discuss development financing and economic cooperation as well as vice-chair of the China International Development Cooperation Agency of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, Zhou Liujin, where discussion centred on bilateral development assistance and the Cook Islands development priorities as relates to economic diversification and growth as well as increased infrastructure needs in response to this growth.
Said DPM Brown, “In addition to the forum, the bilateral meetings facilitated enhanced understanding of the Cook Islands development agenda and the offering and expectations of entities such as the Exim Bank and CIDCA which will only serve to ensure our relationship with China delivers on our development aspirations.”