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Chinese FDI a boon to Latin America

By Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-06-27 10:05

China's foreign direct investment in Latin America has not only grown fast, but diversified dramatically in the past years, according to the latest research report released on Monday.

Cumulative Chinese FDI in Latin America since 2003 has reached over $110 billion, mostly made in the last five years, according to the report Chinese FDI in Latin America, which was jointly produced by the Atlantic Council and OECD Development Center.

While 60 percent of Chinese FDI in the region went to the extractive industries from 2003 to 2012, it dropped to 37 percent from 2013 to 2016. Meanwhile, investment in the service sector jumped from 21 percent from 2003 to 2012 to more than 50 percent the next four years.

Sergio Amaral, Brazilian ambassador to the US and former chairman of the Brazil-China Business Council, said on Monday that China's presence in Latin America is very impressive.

"But more impressive than the presence, in trade and investment, is the rate of growth," he told a seminar on the release of the report.

Trade between China and Latin America has grown 23 percent a year on average in the past decade, faster than the growth of intra-Latin America trade, according to Amaral.

Amaral describes China's relationship with Brazil as sustainable due to the complementarity, adding that Chinese FDI has helped improve Brazil's infrastructure, and its investment in agriculture has made people in Brazil's countryside richer. Brazil is by far the major destination of Chinese FDI in Latin America.

"Chinese investment in the region can help contribute to high economic growth and spike productivity and innovation," said Gerardo Mato, chairman of HSBC Global Banking & Markets for the Americas.

"These will help push for economic transition from reliance on natural resources to service and manufacturing and bring new opportunities to ensure a more prosperous future for the region," he said of the increasingly diversified Chinese FDI.

The bond between China and Latin America has grown closer despite the geographical distance. President Xi Jinping has visited Latin America three times since 2013.

Premier Li Keqiang vowed to enhance cooperation with Chile and upgrade the China-Chile free trade agreement in his meeting with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in Beijing on May 14.

President Mauricio Macri of Argentina also visited China last month, signing $30 billion worth of deals, including financing to build two nuclear power plants.

"Chinese companies are constructing numerous infrastructure projects across the region, many of which will directly improve trade," Mato said.

chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com

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