China bets on strategic ties with Latin America and the Caribbean

chinese premier eclac alicia barcena

China’s Premier Li Keqiang is welcomed by ECLAC executive secretary Alicia Bárcena to the commission’s headquarters in Santiago.


SANTIAGO, Chile, Tuesday May 26, 2015 – China’s Premier Li Keqiang has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to working with the region, and a United Nations body says it’s time to take a “qualitative leap forward” in that cooperation.

“China is prepared to deepen its cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean in order to mutually learn from each other and forge together a new path for the China-Latin America and the Caribbean Comprehensive Cooperation Association, announced by President Xi Jinping last July,” said Premier Li Keqiang, during a keynote lecture at the headquarters of UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago.

He gave a lecture aimed at the entire Latin American and Caribbean region, at the end of a tour of Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Chile, in which he stressed that the region is a cornerstone for global peace and stability, becoming a “new leading area” constantly on the rise in terms of international politics and economics.

He said the promotion of cooperation between China and the region in terms of productive capacity would boost development in such a way that everyone wins, explaining that China proposes that both parties explore a new 3 x 3 cooperation model, focused on the joint construction of the three major pathways of logistics, energy and information technology; the virtuous interaction between companies, society and government; and the broadening of three financing channels – funds, credits and insurance.

The Chinese premier added that his country and the region should intensify their international collaboration even more and strengthen their coordination to speak with a common voice on issues such as the reform of the international financial structure, the negotiations for a new agreement on carbon emissions, the development of the post-2015 development agenda, as well as cybersecurity, with the aim of forging a global network of associations for balanced development and of universal benefit, safeguarding in the best way possible both common interests and developing countries’ right to have their say.

ECLAC’s executive secretary Alicia Bárcena said the premier’s message was relevant for the entire region to better understand its short and medium-term strategies.

“The relationship between China and Latin America and the Caribbean has reached enough maturity to take a qualitative leap forward and advance towards strategic ties that provide mutual benefits,” the UN official said.

“His visit marks a milestone in the deepening of economic, political and cooperative relations that has taken place in recent years. We at ECLAC have carefully followed the complex process of reforms that China is undergoing to advance towards an inclusive development model characterized by greater environmental sustainability.”

According to ECLAC’s figures, between 2000 and 2014 bilateral trade between Latin America and the Caribbean and China expanded 22 times over. China is now the second biggest trading partner of the region and the first of Chile and Brazil.

The expansion and deepening of financial and investment relations, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and energy, should bring about important mutual benefits, Bárcena stressed.

For example, she said, Chinese investment would make a greater contribution to the region’s development if it is oriented not only towards the traditional sectors of hydrocarbons and mining, but diversifies towards manufacturing, services and the development of better infrastructure in transportation, energy and logistics.

“There is also a great deal of room to promote a high-level dialogue and closer positions between China and the region regarding key issues on the global agenda, in particular the post-2015 Development Agenda and the future multilateral regime to combat climate change, as well as the reform of the international monetary system. The strategic approximation of China and Latin America and the Caribbean is also part of the necessary strengthening of cooperation among countries from the south,” Bárcena added.

Li Keqiang announced that during his tour of Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Chile, China signed more than 70 cooperation documents in the areas of energy, mining, infrastructure construction, nuclear plants and scientific and technological innovation, valued at more than US$30 billion.

“China is prepared to join forces with Latin American and Caribbean countries to contribute in a small but meaningful way to the construction of our happy home and to work together for a more beautiful world,” he concluded.

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