China says it intends to invest as much as US$250 billion in Latin America over the next ten years, funding projects in the fields of energy, infrastructure development, innovation and agriculture.
The commitment came at the ministerial forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States held in Beijing last Friday.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has praised the outcome of the meeting, with its Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena saying that closer strategic ties with China will help the region to improve infrastructure and promote the production and exportation of goods and services.
Over the past decade, China has become Latin America’s second biggest trading partner. It is a prominent purchaser of crude oil from Venezuela, copper from Chile and Peru, and soybeans from Argentina and Brazil, among other commodities.
In return for these natural resources, Latin American countries have gained billions of dollars in investments as well as credits.
Ecuador recently received a $7.53 billion loan from China, while Venezuela has wrapped up several deals including a deal for constructing houses and education facilities with Chinese help — although China has specifically mentioned that its funding of Venezuela is not aimed at securing energy, mining, and agriculture resources.
However, China’s partnership with Latin America faces many challenges. For many countries the relationship with China is limited to exporting commodities, and with demand for these decreasing and energy prices falling, many countries are running trade deficits.
The forum was attended by the Presidents of China, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Venezuela; the Prime Minister of the Bahamas; and foreign ministers from the 33 CELAC member countries, in addition to representatives from regional organizations including ECLAC, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF).