Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) promised on Friday to press Chinese firms to step up investment in Latin America, as the world’s No. 2 economy seeks to boost economic ties with the commodity-rich region.
Wrapping up a low-key Latin American tour that also took in Cuba and Uruguay, Xi said he wanted to increase trade volumes with Latin America, a major source of raw materials like copper.
“We continue to stimulate Chinese companies to increase investment and business in this region,” Xi said.
“China is ready to work with countries in the region to raise mutual exports of value-added products and increase the scale of trade,” he added.
Chinese economic ties with Latin America are booming and its trade with the region totaled US$180 billion last year, up 50 percent from 2009, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.
Chile and China signed agreements to increase cooperation in mining, banking and telecommunications on Thursday.
Xi, tipped to succeed Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in 2013, signed a “strategic cooperation” agreement between state copper giant Codelco and China Minmetals Corp at a ceremony hosted by Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Thursday.
The governments also confirmed financial cooperation and development funding accords between Chile’s Banco Estado and China Development Bank (國家開發銀行), both state-owned.
China, a top importer of commodities, is by far the biggest buyer of copper from Chile, the world’s No. 1 producer of the metal used in the manufacture of goods from cars to fridges and power lines to cages used in salmon farming.
Chinese companies signed deals to buy about US$530 million in Uruguayan soy, wool, dairy products and other goods on Wednesday during Xi’s stop in Montevideo.
China also signed a letter of intent to refurbish a Cuban oil refinery and agreed to open a new credit line between the two countries in accords signed on Sunday last week in Havana, where Xi began his Latin American visit.
Through the agreements, China looks ready to play a major role in the development of Cuban oil, including the island’s soon-to-be explored fields in the Gulf of Mexico, which is likely to raise eyebrows in the nearby US.