Brazil first stop on Li's LatAm vist

Updated: 2015-05-18 07:32

By ZHAO YINAN in Shannon, Ireland(China Daily USA)

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Premier Li Keqiang is scheduled to arrive in Brazil on Monday, kicking off his first trip to Latin America after more than two years in office.Brazil first stop on Li's LatAm vist

The premier, accompanied by his wife, Cheng Hong, arrived in Shannon, Ireland, on Sunday for an overnight stay and meetings with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

Experts said Li will finalize deals in aviation, railway, energy and cultural exchanges with leaders from Latin American countries, where the local economies are grappling with unbalanced structures, a credit shortfall and a drop in commodities prices.

After stops in the capital Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro in Latin America's largest economy, Li will travel to Colombia, Peru and Chile.

Widely expected infrastructure deals with China will enable Brazil, which is struggling with a ballooning budget deficit and financing difficulties, to revamp sagging infrastructure ahead of next year's Summer Olympics in Rio, the first Games to be held in South America, said Xu Shicheng, a research fellow in Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Xu said China's economic cooperation with the area used to focus on mineral resources, large commodities and agricultural products.

"That kind of trade was hit by the global price fall of commodities," he said. "In addition to the Chinese leadership's drive to restructure its investment-driven economy into a service-oriented, cleaner economy, bilateral trade will become more diverse and balanced in the future."

Annual trade between China and Latin America rose by 0.8 percent year-on-year to $263.6 billion in 2014, according to the General Administration of Customs. By the end of 2014, China's direct investment in Latin America totaled $98.9 billion.

Trade with the four countries accounted for more than 57 percent of China's Latin American trade volume, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Chen Fengying, director of the World Economy Institute at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Chinese companies have the cost-efficient equipment and technologies Latin American countries need, and their cooperation, especially in high-speed trains, manufacturing, e-commerce and industrial parks, will benefit local economic development and job creation.

By 2014, China had signed $110 billion in construction projects with Latin American and Caribbean countries, covering natural gas, power stations, highways, ports, housing, telecommunications and railway construction.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the nation's top think tank, said in its Latin America release on Friday that although the region is not part of Beijing's "One Belt, One Road Initiative", trade and investment between the two are expected to continue increasing, as are people-to-people exchanges.

In January, President Xi Jinping pledged $250 billion in investment in Latin America over the next 10 years.