PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay – China and the Latin American and Caribbean region will look to strengthen their relations via trade, investment and government cooperation at the 11th edition of the China-LAC business summit, an event that opened Friday in this southern Uruguayan resort city with more than 2,500 business leaders in attendance.
Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), highlighted that objective at the inaugural session of the summit, in which the participating business leaders will take part in more than 1,000 working meetings.
Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and Ma Peihua, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, also attended the opening session at the Punta del Este Convention & Exhibition Center.
Moreno hailed the growing interest in the summit, whose first edition in Chile drew 400 participants, but said the rise in trade between China and the Latin American and Caribbean region was even more noteworthy, having increased 17-fold between 2000 and 2016 to $216 billion.
“In less than a generation, China went from having almost no contact with our region to becoming our second-largest trade partner, and it is already the top trade partner of Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay,” Moreno said. “These exchanges will keep growing as our societies prosper.”
The president of the IDB, co-organizer of the summit along with the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the Uruguay XXI investment and export promotion agency, also stressed that the relationship with China was not limited to trade, noting that the Latin American and Caribbean region received more than $13 billion in Chinese investment in 2016.
That investment has not been restricted to only primary and extractive activities, but also has flowed into the manufacturing and services sectors.
Ma, meanwhile, said the summit was focused on promoting mutual complementation between China and Latin America and the Caribbean in pursuit of shared benefits and advantages.
“Latin America is an important destination for Chinese investment in sectors such as energy, mining and infrastructure, but also in others such as finance, agriculture, services, manufacturing, e-commerce and air transport,” the Chinese official said.