By K. Quincy Parker
Nassau Guardian Business Editor
NASSAU, Bahamas -- In the first half of 2014, China spent more than US$9 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean, and trade between China and the region topped US$240 billion between January and November 2014.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi
China’s billions in investment in the region, together with the pursuit of common development goals and ramped up political, economic, cultural and people-to-people exchange, have strengthened ties between China and the region, and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has pledged to “work hand in hand with [Latin America and the Caribbean] to boost the comprehensive and cooperative partnership.
Yi issued a statement prior to the inaugural first ministerial meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Forum of China, pointing to those ties: China is the second-largest trading partner of the CELAC nations and the third-largest investor in the region.
“Mutually beneficial cooperation in resources and energy development, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, manufacturing, high technology and other sectors has come a long way,” Yi said.
“China-CELAC relations, which feature extensive common interests and provide development opportunities for both sides, have been strengthened and are well-positioned to achieve even stronger growth,” he said.
Yi said China is committed to making the meeting a success so that a good start will be made for the China-CELAC forum and for sustaining collective cooperation between the two sides.
“As there is much in common between the Chinese dream and the Latin American dream, it is now the right time for us to join hands and realize our shared dreams. China will work hand in hand with Latin American and Caribbean countries to boost the comprehensive and cooperative partnership between China and Latin America and the Caribbean,” he added.
Yi said rapid global economic integration has boosted cross-regional cooperation and what both China and Latin American and Caribbean countries should do now is to fully tap their respective strengths and elevate their relations to a higher level.
“To develop a new platform for pursuing collective cooperation is a strategic choice made by both sides in keeping with the trend of our times.”
Yi’s tone was echoed in a statement issued by China’s Embassy in Dominica on January 5, which called it an important basis of China's foreign policy to strengthen the unity and cooperation with developing countries including countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The embassy noted that in 2013, bilateral trade between China and CELAC countries reached US$261.57 billion. China's total investment to the region was US$86 billion.
In January-November 2014, trade between China and CELAC countries amounted to US$241.93 billion, an increase of 1.3 percent as compared with the same period in 2013. In the first half of 2014, investment to the region from China was US$9.06 billion.
Cooperation has been fruitful in areas such as energy, natural resources, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, manufacture and high-tech, the Embassy reported.
“China and Latin America and the Caribbean regard each other as an opportunity for development and share broad interests,” the embassy noted. “It is an aspiration shared by both China and CELAC states to avail themselves of their respective advantages and to upgrade their relationship to an overall cooperation based on a new platform.”
The theme of the meeting in Beijing is "New platform, new starting point, new opportunity: Jointly promoting China-Latin America and the Caribbean partnership of comprehensive cooperation".
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian