Bridge over Pacific waters
Updated: 2014-07-24 07:49
By Wu Baiyi (China Daily)
China values geopolitical importance of Latin American and Caribbean nations and wants all-round cooperation with them
President Xi Jinping's second visit to Latin America - Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba - from July 17 to 23, is a milestone in Sino-Latin American relationship. Xi's first trip to the region came within three months of taking office last year during which he visited Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico.
The highlight of Xi's second visit to the region is his meeting with leaders of Latin American and Caribbean countries in Brazil, demonstrating the increasing political will of China and the region's countries to deepen cooperation on all fronts and resolve important issues.
Trade between China and Latin America has increased rapidly - from $14.9 billion in 2001 to $261.6 billion in 2013, or 17 times in the past 12 years. China has become the second-largest trading partner of Latin America and Chinese investments in the region have grown at a fast pace; the region is second only to Asia in total direct Chinese investment. But the deepening trade partnership between China and Latin America has also thrown up some challenges such as China's asymmetric aid to Latin America and imports from the region.
Economic cooperation between the two sides is seemingly focused on a limited number of products and concentrated in certain countries of the region. For instance, two-way trade is mainly in resource-related products and manufactured goods, rather than technology or services, and involves Latin American countries that are rich in natural resources, such as Brazil. Also, most of the Chinese investors prefer providing financial aid to mineral-rich countries in the region.
Moreover, Sino-Latin American economic and trade cooperation has reached an inflection point. Therefore, China has to extend its market to more countries in Central America and the Caribbean, giving priority to the promotion of its technology and services. And to ensure that its overseas investments yield win-win results, China could use its expertise in generating wind power to broaden its foreign-investment horizon and help more Latin American countries in infrastructure construction and to achieve optimum benefits from their industrial structures.