Beijing Comes To Lima: The China – Latin America Summit – Analysis
By Peter Tase
On November 21, the Peruvian capital, hosted the fifth China – Latin America Summit, in which for two days were discussed a roster of urgent topics involved in order to achieve further development in terms of commerce and trade between China (PRC) and Latin America. The Summit was attended by over a thousand business leaders and public officials from the PRC and from all of the Latin American countries. Since the world financial crisis of 2008, Chinese corporations have devoted special attention to diversify their investment potential throughout South America in particular.
According to Mr. Zhang Wei, the Vice President of the Chinese Council of International Trade Promotion (CCPIT), in 2010 China and Latin America, reached record levels of USD 183 billion in inter-regional trade and commerce. In the coming years, Chinese business hope to have a wider grasp and a more comprehensive investment expansion strategy in high production areas such as energy, infrastructure, mining and telecommunications. It is believed that with the help of this year’s end gathering, Chinese business activists will reach a record level of their investments thrust, with growth pointed at an upwards of USD 22.7 billion. It remains to be seen on what will be the logical consequences of Chinese Investment in Latin America, taking into consideration that Chinese companies tend to be not as environmentally responsible when it comes to South America’s fragile landscape and that its inadequate infrastructure requires special consideration and hyper-responsible practices. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), China is one of the three largest investing countries in the Latin America region, immediately trailing the United States and the Netherlands.
On the first day of the Summit, Peruvian president Ollanta Humala, whose term began in November of 2010, emphasized that the development of his country and the rest of Latin America is at a stage of industrialization where much is happening: “We should not only export minerals, but also move forward towards building a region that leaves behind the path of industrial progress and become developed nations.”
The Peruvian leader added: “it is important to export not only minerals but place an emphasis on the exportation of software…human resources and inspire the young generation the desire to learn Chinese language and attract Chinese students to study Spanish and conduct research in Peru and Latin America”. The Peruvian president quickly took notice that it is important for his country’s businesses to diversify their commercial products and to initiate a transition and a new conceptualizations of economic productivity that could be used as an example for the Latin America region, therefore future business ought to reduce the future exportation of raw materials and begin to trade products with added value which would be more likely to promptly alleviate poverty and stimulate the economy to achieve new and accentuated levels. On the same topic, the Peruvian Minister of Economy and Finance, Luis Miguel Castilla Rubio, noted in his speech that: “Peru is in a very important stage, very promising. Its Macroeconomic Stability, commercial openness and dynamic policies of social inclusion transform Peru into a very attractive country for investment and commerce.”
The fifth China – Latin America Summit took place at a time when Peru was one of the world’s most successful growing economies, it has experienced a seven percent growth of its GDP in 2011. The Peruvian population also experienced a steady growth and a considerable reduction of the poverty line that has steadily decreased from fifty percent below poverty line in 2004 into almost 30 percent in 2010. The conference was a decided success, with a thousand delegates in attendance. Preliminary data included that several thousand of one-on-one meetings were held, and over USD 100 million worth of deals were made, with more to come.
Previous Summits have taken place, beginning in Chile (2007), Harbin (2008), Bogota (2009) and Chengdu (2010), with this year’s Summit statement being: “comprehensive growth: new stage in China-Latin America relations”.
According to the Chinese ambassador resident in Peru, Mr. Zhao Wuyi, “Continental China has emerged in 2010 as the largest trading partner of Peru and of other South American countries.”
This year’s Summit was organized by the Council of International Trade Promotion of the People’s Republic of China (CCPIT), in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Tourism and the Commission of Promoting Peruvian Exports and Tourism (Promperú and ProInversión), in cooperation with the Foreign Trade Association of Peru (ComexPerú) and Lima Chamber of Commerce and the Peruvian Chamber of Commerce in China.
Published at COHA. References for this article can be found here.