World / Latin America

China to boost trade, investment ties with Latin America

By ZHAO SHENGNAN ( Updated: 2015-01-08 16:51

Trade and investment targets were included in a renewed pledge by President Xi Jinping to boost China's economic support to Latin America, as a landmark Beijing meeting started on Thursday.

China's investments in Latin America will hit $250 billion in the next 10 years and two-way trade will almost double to $500 billion during the same period, Xi said at the opening ceremony of the first ministerial meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

The two-day forum, which marked the first time China hosted the 33-member body that comprises all countries in the Americas but the United States and Canada, will lay out a cooperation plan though to 2019 in political security, trade, investment, finance, infrastructure, energy, industry, agriculture, and other areas, said Xi.

It will also produce a Beijing Declaration that sets the direction for the forum and defines cooperation guidelines, as well as Regulations on the Forum, he added.

Xi emphasized the potential for future growth in ties between China and Latin America, whose combined population accounts for one third of the world's total.

China's economy will continue to record impressive growth rates in the coming years and will provide more opportunities for the world, including Latin American and Caribbean states, he said.

"Expanding cooperation discussions at this forum will determine deepening integration with Latin America in the next five years in fields including security, trade, finance, technology, energy, resources, industry and agriculture," Xi added.

Trade between China and the region has grown from $10 billion in 2000 to $257 billion in 2013, driven largely by Chinese demand for commodities such as crude oil and agricultural products.

In return, China has pumped billions of dollars in investments into the region, and built major infrastructure projects.

When Xi visited Latin America in July, 2014, China extended a $20 billion loan to the region for infrastructure development, another $10 billion in preferential loans, a $5 billion fund for cooperation and $50 million for agricultural development.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday called the forum a historic occasion and hailed the close ties.

"To repeat what (former) President Hugo Chavez said, China is demonstrating to the world that a country does not necessarily seek hegemony as it grows stronger," Maduro said when giving a speech at the opening ceremony.

Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis, Ecuador President Rafael Correa Delgado, and Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie also attended the opening ceremony at the Great Hall of the People.

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