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By Richmond Felix

August 28, 1998 - Another technical-cooperation agreement has been signed between China and St. Lucia. This makes it the second time this year that arrangements have been formalized to facilitate technical and economic assistance for St. Lucia. Earlier agreements were for the construction of a national sports stadium and to facilitate banking arrangements for the projects.

The latest agreement signed Monday, makes provision for the construction of a Free Trade Zone in the town of Vieux Fort. It is especially significant in that it has come nearly one year since diplomatic relations was established between the two countries.

Charge d’Affaires of the Peoples Republic of China, Jian Williams says, "This is the first project. It can serve as the pilot project." He believes that with the joint efforts of both sides and close cooperation relations between China and St. Lucia will continue to develop healthy.

The question of the commencement of the long anticipated Chinese projects has come up quite frequently. Present for the official signing was Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Hon. George Odlum. He explained that such major projects have a long gestation period. "A project is not something that you snap your finger and it develops. You have to conceptualize it, then discuss it on both sides, you have to arrive at schedules and you have to do the important technical work." I know the Chinese are very concerned that the quality of work that they turn out lives up to International Standards."

The sod turning ceremony for the Free Trade Zone will be held on September 10. Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for Vieux Fort South, the Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony will attend the ceremony along with a number of officials and dignitaries from both countries.

60 Chinese nationals and 100 St. Lucians will be working alongside each other during the project. It is hoped that this interaction will help foster the exchange of work skills and cultures.


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