MONTEVIDEO – The University of Montevideo’s Business School launched on Wednesday a new China-Latin American Studies Center for Trade and Business that will seek, among other things, to be a “power plant of ideas” to improve relations between Latin America and the Asian giant.
The center’s director, Nicolas Santo, spoke with EFE, saying that although the facility will aim to improve overall relations between Latin American and China, the focus will be on Uruguay “to be able to provide added value to (bilateral) trade and investment links.”
“The center’s primary initiative is the Uruguay China Strategic Agenda for 2030 and the idea is to invite the competent parties in the relationship with China to develop proposals on what we can do to improve cooperation in trade, investments, infrastructure, tourism and to permit dynamic interaction within that virtuous circle that includes government, the private sector and academia,” Santo said.
He also said that the center’s work will be focused on general aspects of trade and business but will not be based on geopolitical factors since it has no “political vocation.”
“It’s a center that has a trade vocation and we’re going to be developing proposals to contribute along those lines,” he said.
In addition, Santo said that the center will present “timely proposals” to improve relations, will evaluate possible trade and investment agreements “without assigning labels.”
Regarding relations with Beijing, Santo said that this is a “very good time,” adding that the Montevideo’s agency for promoting investment, exports and the country’s image – Uruguay XXI – has released figures showing that “one in every four dollars’ worth of Uruguayan exports goes to China.”
Meanwhile, Uruguay XXI executive director Antonio Carambula agreed with Santo that the South American country is at a “great time” in its relations with China, who is Uruguay’s main trade partner.
“From the cultural point of view, there’s also a lot of exchange, a lot of cooperation. China is our main partner on the world level and these kinds of initiatives align with those opportunities that are opening up,” he said.
With regard to the center, Carambula said that focusing on relations between the two nations from the academic perspective “is a good move,” adding that he hopes to take “another look” at trade relations.
Also speaking at the center’s opening ceremony was economist Ignacio Munyo, who said that it is “very important” to let the public know of the low costs and great benefits for Uruguay in pursuing trade relations with China.
He said that countries like Chile and Peru have grown more quickly than Uruguay in recent years in large measure due to the treaties they have concluded with the Asian giant.