China / Government

China offers loans to Latin America, Caribbean

By ZHAO SHENGNAN ( Updated: 2015-01-05 19:06

All members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States can apply for commercial loans from China, which were initially proposed by President Xi Jinping on a visit to Brazil last year, a senior diplomat said on Monday.

The remarks by Zhu Qingqiao, Director-General of the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs under the Foreign Ministry, suggested CELAC members without diplomatic ties with China can also have access to the loans.

Around a dozen CELAC members, including Paraguay and Haiti, have no formal diplomatic relationships with Beijing.

China and the CELAC will map out an overall plan guiding China-CELAC cooperation, including in the financial sector, during the first China-CELAC ministerial forum, which is set to be held in Beijing on Thursday and Friday, Zhu said at a press conference in Beijing.

More than 40 ministerial-level delegates, including 20 foreign ministers from the CELAC countries, have confirmed their attendance at the meeting, Zhu said.

The forum was established in July, 2014 after a meeting between Xi and leaders from China, Latin America and the Caribbean in Brasilia. It was the first collective meeting of China's president and leaders of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

In Brasilia, Xi proposed the creation of a $20 billion fund to finance infrastructure projects in Latin American and the Caribbean, and offered to extend a credit line of up to $10 billion to nations of CELAC via the Bank of China.

Su Zhenxing, a senior research fellow on Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said countries without diplomatic relationships with Beijing are not excluded as they have maintained trade links with China for a long period, albeit small in size, and China is fostering cooperation with the whole CELAC.

CELAC, established in December 2011, is the largest regional political cooperation in the Western Hemisphere and consist of 33 countries except the United States and Canada.

The forum in Beijing showed the group’s willingness to strengthen cooperation with China, especially in the economic sector, said Su.

The meeting is expected to formulate operational rules for the forum and provide guidance in cooperation areas, he added.

China is the second largest trading partner and third largest investment source for Latin America. Trade between Latin America, the Caribbean and China has seen a significant increase in recent years, reaching $261.6 billion in 2013.

Xi is scheduled to attend the forum’s opening ceremony on Thursday morning, along with Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis, Ecuador President Rafael Correa Delgado, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro Moros.

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