Belt and Road watershed moment for China-Latin America relations

Initiative ushers in development momentum, kick-starting significant growth opportunities for both sides

By ZHAO RUINAN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-08-11 10:20
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Tango is the emblematic dance of Argentina. WANG TIANCONG/XINHUA

Exchange flourishes

Education exchange has also flourished under the BRI, with 44 Confucius Institutes and 12 Confucius Classrooms established across Latin America. Moreover, the first Chinese cultural center in Mexico City stands as a symbol of the enduring partnership, promoting artistic expression and appreciation.

Green cooperation has seen remarkable progress, as exemplified by Argentina's Cauchari Solar Park, built with Chinese investment and technological assistance. The facility has not only provided clean energy to thousands of families but also generated significant socioeconomic benefits for the region.

The solar park is one of the six solar farms built in Argentina by PowerChina, the largest renewable energy contractor in the country, with 12 solar, wind and hydroelectric energy projects completed and 10 more projects under construction.

Tu Shuiping, head of PowerChina's Argentine subsidiary, said there is still "a lot of potential".

"I believe in the future, Argentina will become one of our most important markets," Tu said.

Argentina is the 21st nation in Latin America to formally join the China-led initiative and the first to do so among the top three regional economies, which also includes Brazil and Mexico.

Brazil is also one of the countries in the region that has its trade performance with China hitting new highs, with bilateral trade reaching $135 billion in 2021, the fourth consecutive record-breaking year.

Although Brazil has not yet formally joined the BRI, nearly half of the Brazilians believe it has brought benefits to countries participating in the initiative and the international community as well, according to a poll released in April, days before Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made a state visit to China and secured a series of cooperation agreements.

BRI projects have also played a major role in further fortifying China-Latin America ties, said Zhou. Countries like Brazil, Mexico and Colombia that have not yet signed a memorandum of understanding for joining the BRI may consider accelerating their pace in taking the opportunity, Zhou added.

The future is promising, observers said.

According to an article published in the World Economic Forum, Latin America-China trade is expected to exceed $700 billion by 2035, more than twice as much as in 2020. China will approach — and could even surpass — the United States as Latin America's top trading partner.

In 2000, Chinese participation accounted for less than 2 percent of Latin America's total trade. In 2035, it could reach 25 percent, the article said.

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