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China pledges US$250B in Caribbean investment

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China has pledged to invest US$250 billion in Latin American and Caribbean nations in the next 10 years, according to reports in Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made the announcement on Thursday, Jan 8 on the first day of an historic two-day forum between Beijing and 33 nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the WorldBulletin said.

Xi projected that bilateral trade between China and Latin America would reach US$500 billion in the coming decade, signaling a new strategy by the Asian giant to boost its presence in the region traditionally dominated by the United States, the news agency said.

“The right moment has arrived to make progress and cooperation between China, Latin America and the Caribbean, which together represent a fifth of the Earth’s landmass, a third of the world population and an eighth of the global economy, and provides enormous resources to deepen economic ties,” Xi told Venezuela’s Noticias24 news site.

The Chinese leader said the talks – which aim to define strategies for cooperation for the next five years in a number of areas from business and energy, to security and technology – marked a “new beginning and new opportunity” between China and CELAC, teleSUR said.

Venezuela will be among the biggest beneficiaries, expecting to get USS$20 billion in investments, according to WorldBulletion.

It said Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro held official talks with his Chinese counterpart on Wednesday.

Ecuador said it would also receive a credit line in excess of US $7.5 billion.

Maduro told Venezuelan state television that the China Development Bank and the Bank of China approved “a series of financial deals”, including “economic, energy and social projects.”

It was not specified whether the US$20 billion investment would be provided as a cash transfer or as goods and labor from Chinese companies, WorldBulletin said.

It said China, the world’s second-largest economy, has established itself as a key trading partner with Latin America, buying oil from Venezuela, iron ore and soybean from Brazil, and copper from Chile and Peru.

In return, the Bulletin said China has provided access to credit and invested in a series of infrastructure projects, including the construction of roads and ports.

On Thursday, China said it will work “hand in hand” with Latin American and Caribbean countries to boost the comprehensive and cooperative partnership between Beijing and the region.

In a statement issued ahead of the inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the China-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (China-CELAC), China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted that since the turn of the new century, “China and Latin American and Caribbean countries have achieved leapfrog growth in our relations by pursuing common development and intensifying political, economic, cultural and people-to-people exchanges.”

The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping is being represented by newly-appointed CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Perry Christie of The Bahamas.

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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