At a Beijing forum on China-Latin America Investment Productive Capacity Cooperation, held on Nov. 22, there was enthusiastic endorsement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by the many Ibero-American and Caribbean participants, representing Jamaica, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru and Cuba, Xinhua reported Nov. 22. Officials from two Chinese companies also attended the conference, sponsored by the China Overseas Development Association.
Zhang Zhenxi, Vice President of the China Overseas Development Association, noted in his speech that Chinese non-financial direct investment in Latin-America grew by 40% in 2016 over the previous year, adding that he was sure that this will continue to increase. “The Belt and Road Initiative… offers a unique development perspective,” he said, “which has great significance for the improvement of infrastructure in Latin American countries.”
The Latin American participants expressed a desire to see more Chinese investment in their countries, and stronger bilateral cooperation in the framework of the BRI. Uruguay’s ambassador to China, Fernando Lugris, offered details on his country’s strong bilateral ties with China, and announced that in the future “we’ll promote relations with China under the Belt and Road Initiative, encouraging economic cooperation even further.” Note that the Uruguayans have been organizing for months for the large Nov. 30-Dec. 2 China-Latin America-Caribbean Business Forum, taking place in Punta del Este, Uruguay, at which Latin America’s participation in the Belt and Road will be a key topic of discussion.
Felipe Aguayo, head of the ProMexico government trade office, said many Chinese companies are beginning to invest in Mexico because it offers favorable conditions. As for the BRI, he said, “Mexico is very interested. We want to participate in that initiative. We think it is a great opportunity…” Andreas Pierotic, from the Chilean embassy in Beijing, underscored that for Chile, as well as for the rest of Latin America, “the Belt and Road has profound significance,” and noted that last year, when Xi Jinping attended the APEC summit in Lima, “he invited Latin America to become part of this great initiative of trade connectivity, infrastructure, finances, thinktanks and people-to-people” cooperation. He noted that recent agreement to expand the Chile-China Free Trade Agreement, signed by Xi and President Michelle Bachelet, reflects “the deepening of trade connectivity in the context of the Belt and Road.”