China-LatAm trade bucks pandemic headwinds to register strong growth

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Participants talk with each other at an exhibition during the 14th China-Latin America and the Caribbean Business Summit in southwest China's Chongqing on Nov. 16, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

At a time when the global economy has been largely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, China-Latin America trade has managed to buck the declining trend and posted a stellar performance.

In the first three quarters of 2021, trade between China and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region amounted to 331.88 billion U.S. dollars, a remarkable increase of 45.5 percent year on year, showed data released Tuesday at the 14th China-LAC Business Summit.

Political, business and academic representatives from China and the LAC region attended the two-day conference that took place in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality online or offline.

Commitment to opening up

During the summit, Chinese and LAC enterprises signed eight cooperation agreements involving animal husbandry, minerals, automobiles and medical equipment, with a total contract value of nearly 1.1 billion U.S. dollars.

"China's demand for beef from the LAC region is increasing every year," said Zhang Xinhao, chairman of Jinshangxu International Trade (Chongqing) Co., Ltd.

The company signed deals with Uruguayan and Brazilian companies to import beef worth a total of 200 million U.S. dollars from Uruguay and Brazil in the following five years.

Despite the fallout of the pandemic, China has remained committed to the opening-up policy and retained its hallmark of "world market."

Fernando Lugris, Uruguay's Ambassador to China, said that China accounts for 60 percent and 80 percent of the country's beef and mutton exports.

Delivering a video speech, Omar Angel Perotti, governor of Santa Fe Province of Argentina, said Santa Fe's export value to China has gained a 25 percent increase year on year in 2021.

In 2018, China was the fourth largest export destination for Santa Fe Province, but jumped to the top in merely one year.

Robust investment

The largest deal of this year's summit came from China's Tibet Summit Resources Co., Ltd., which inked a contract worth 700 million U.S. dollars for battery-grade lithium carbonate with the provincial government of Salta, Argentina.

The company will invest a battery-grade lithium carbonate project with an annual output of over 100,000 tonnes in Salta.

Zhang Jieyuan, the company's deputy chairman, said the project will rake in a considerable amount of tax revenue for the local government and create many job opportunities.

According to data from China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), the LAC region is the second-largest destination for China's outbound investment, with more than 2,700 Chinese-funded enterprises operating in the region.

Transport infrastructure has been a major investment area for the LAC region, and energy is developing into a new frontier of cooperation opportunities.

From 2005 to 2020, the number of infrastructure projects funded by China that had been put into operation or are currently under construction in the LAC region totaled 138, with an investment of more than 94 billion U.S. dollars. The projects have created over 600,000 jobs for locals, data from the Latin America and the Caribbean Network on China showed.

Clean energy and infrastructure projects funded by China have improved the living conditions of people in the LAC region, said Luiz Eduardo, executive vice president of Vale of Brazil.

Rosy future

To further expand areas of cooperation in a new development paradigm, the Chongqing Initiative by Business Communities of China and LAC Countries was released at the summit.

The proposals under this initiative include jointly tackling the challenges of COVID-19 and upholding the multilateral trading system, and pushing for economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.

It also called for continuing to promote infrastructure connectivity, effectively promoting financial integration, vigorously engaging in cooperation on innovation, and fully supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.

"China and the LAC region are highly complementary to each other in the economy, and have compatible development strategies and great potentials for cooperation," said Zhang Shaogang, vice chairman of the CCPIT.

Zhang added that joint efforts of China and the LAC region will promote a higher level of cooperative partnership and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

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