BEIJING—T&T’s new ambassador to China, Chandradath Singh, says the embassy in Beijing, which is due to be opened officially by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar tomorrow, needs specialist staff in trade and investment promotion, tourism promotion, cultural promotion and communications to be effective. The staff of the embassy comprises Singh, a charge d’affairs and an immigration officer, the ambassador said in an interview with the T&T Guardian on Monday night after a 15-course dinner at the Great Hall of the People. The dinner was sponsored by Beijing Oriental Yuhong, a Chinese waterproofing company that uses Trinidad Lake Asphalt as raw material in its production process. Singh said he hoped the Government would make the staff available to allow the mission to create the kind of impact and commitment to service delivery he was striving to achieve. “My emphasis would be on a hard-line business approach and all the supporting staff that would help us to package our business and promote it effectively in a competitive environment, or else we are missing the boat,” Singh said.
While his appointment is political—in that he was not a foreign service officer when appointed—he served as a T&T diplomat for 25 years between 1977 and 2002, rising to become this country’s High Commissioner to India and Chief of Protocol. During what he described as a “short break” between 2002 and 2010, he said he built a cricket stadium in Florida. Singh said he believed Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar chose him because of his experience and her knowledge that his stewardship would be safe, secure yet forward thinking.
“The level of interaction and the relationship between China and T&T is so high and sensitive right now, that you need someone with the experience so that you don’t have a false start, a weak start or a start that would be doubtful,” Singh said.
Asked what he hoped to achieve as T&T’s ambassador to Beijing, Singh said: “The priority will be to make up for the number of years we have not been here. We should have been in China a long time ago but now that we are finally here, we have to cover a great deal of ground.” Stating that T&T’s newest foreign mission could not conduct business as usual, he said: “We have to adopt policies, principles and procedures to fill that gap and to operate in a way that will not deny T&T from the benefits that can accrue from an incredible country like this.” The focus at the embassy would be on being more aggressive, business-oriented and user-friendly, Singh said, hence his call for more staff. See a full profile in Thursday’s Business Guardian