Chinese exploring new investment ties
Updated: 2014-03-02 17:10
By QIU QUANLIN in Guangzhou (China Daily Latin America)
Chinese companies should invest in Latin America because the stable and emerging economy in that region will help boost a company's international presence, business leaders and officials from both sides said at a forum.
"Latin America has become one of the most important destinations for Chinese investment," said Liu Xia, an official with the Department of Foreign Capital and Overseas Investment of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
Over the past few years, a growing number of Chinese companies have invested in oil, electricity, mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors, Liu said at the Going to Latin America Forum held Feb 25 to 26 in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.
In 2013, Chinese investment in Latin America had surpassed $80 billion, accounting for 13 percent of the country's total foreign investment, according to Liu.
Liu said the NDRC is working with financial organizations to set up a foundation for cooperative projects between China and Latin America.
"Countries and regions from Latin America are welcome to participate in the creation of the foundation, which will encourage more Chinese companies to invest in the manufacturing, high-tech and sustainable-development industries in Latin America," Liu said.
Li Zhaoxing, chairman of China Public Diplomacy Association, said the common task of realizing peace and development will foster a closer relationship between China and Latin America.
"I have written poems about the people and beautiful landscape of Latin America during my diplomatic career in the past 40 years," said Li, who is also former Minister of Foreign Affairs. "Today, I still believe that there is huge potential for cooperation, either in agriculture, minerals or tourism. I hope more Chinese companies invest in Latin America in the near future."
President Xi Jinping will visit Latin America and attend the Sixth BRICS Leaders Meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Brazil this year, Li said.
"More frequent visits of leaders from China and Latin America will help boost bilateral economic and trade ties," Li said.
Chen Yuehua, deputy director of Guangdong Provincial Foreign Economic and Trade Department, said Guangdong's improved investment environment and booming development will help better induce investment from Latin America.
Guangdong, an economic powerhouse in South China, realized a trade value of more than $37.8 billion with Latin America in 2013, according to Chen.
The value represented 3.4 percent of the province's total trade and 14.3 percent of the country's trade with Latin America last year, Chen said.
As of 2013, Latin America had invested in 6,748 projects in Guangdong worth more than $44.8 billion, according to Chen.
"Projects from Latin America have performed well in Guangdong over the past few years. Businesses in Guangdong have also shown increased interest in Latin America," Chen said.
According to Chen, Guangdong has invested in more than 260 projects worth $1.8 billion in Latin America.
A growing number of Guangdong-based companies, such as telecommunications giants Huawei Technologies Co, ZTE Corporation and home-appliance provider Midea Group, have also invested in Latin America.
"The booming economic development of Guangdong will bring about huge opportunities for investors from Latin America," Chen said.
According to Chen, Guangdong will develop more than 600 key projects ranging from highway, railway, airport, clean energy and water resource to environmental protection and a coastal port in the next few years, with investment worth of more than 3.5 trillion yuan.
Guangdong's economy was set to increase by 8 percent annually during the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-15).
"Also, we will import products of more than $400 billion during the 12th Five Year Plan. It has provided huge opportunities for exporters in Latin America," Chen said.
Guangdong's strategy to transform its economic structure in the next few years, which focuses on developing modern manufacturing and emerging industries of strategic importance, will also bring potential for foreign investors, according to Chen.
The development of high-end electronics, new-energy automobiles, semiconductor lighting, biomedicine and environmental protection industries will be prioritized in Guangdong as part of the plan.
"Guangdong's strategy to balance regional economic development and the establishment of a planned free-trade zone will help boost the province's economy in the next few years," Chen said.
Last year, the authorities in Guangdong introduced a series of measures to balance economic development between its underdeveloped northern, eastern and western areas and the prosperous Pearl River Delta.
"We will develop new economic growth engines in the underdeveloped areas by increasing investment in infrastructure," Chen said.
The authorities have also submitted a plan to the central government for a free-trade zone covering Guangdong and two neighboring special administrative regions — Hong Kong and Macao.
"Foreign investment is welcome in the high-end environmental protection and technology-intensive industries in the free-trade zone," Chen said.
Chen also urged local authorities to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with their Latin American counterparts to foster closer economic and trade ties.
"There are abundant resources in agricultural, minerals and water in Latin America that are of great importance for businesses from Guangdong in their overseas strategies," Chen said.
Jorge Quiroga, former president of Bolivia, said a stable and emerging economy in Latin America will help boost investment from China.
"Today in Latin America, there are many products with Chinese labels, either in the agriculture, energy or mining industry," said Quiroga.
Quiroga said Latin America needs more cooperation with China to manufacture goods with high added value.
"We are looking for more cooperative products with high-end technology, as we are not only exporting raw materials and products to China. We need all-round cooperative projects with Chinese investors," he said.