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Closer trade ties with China

Jun,04,2013 Source:CIT

Official urges Caribbean region to reduce dependence on United States

Latin American and Caribbean countries should diversify their commerce by further cooperating with China to reduce dependence on the United States, a senior official from the region's forum of political parties said on Friday.

Jose Rivera Banuet, executive secretary-general of the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean, said that investments and joint ventures from China are most welcome in Latin America.

"Mexico, for example, has around 85 percent of its trade volume with the United States," said Rivera, who is Mexican.

"It is very important for Mexico to diversify its economy, and an ideal partner would be China since it is the most dynamic economy in the world," he added.

Rivera was in China to represent the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean as an observer at the 2013 special conference of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, themed "Promoting Green Development and Beautiful Asia Together".

He called for urgent efforts to transform the "brown economy", dominated by fossil fuels, into a global "green economy", saying that environmental damage is seriously threatening future developments of mankind.

Earlier on Friday, President Xi Jinping kicked off his second overseas tour since taking office in March. The trip to Latin America and the Caribbean region included stops in Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Rivera said that Latin America highly hails Xi's visit, adding that a series of cooperative agreements in the economy, trade, academics and culture will be signed.

"The issue of a possible free trade agreement will be discussed between leaders of the two economies during President Xi's stay in Mexico," Rivera said. "Also, the two sides will talk about combined efforts to deal with global challenges like climate change."

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto visited China in April and attended the annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia.

In a recent media interview, Xi said that the exchange of visits by top leaders of China and Mexico in such a short period of time reflects the great importance that both attach to bilateral relations.

Rivera said that frequent high-level visits between China and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are essential to deepen ties, as the two regions, far away from each other geographically, have "little knowledge of each other".

"We need to have seminars and exchange information to understand each other, as the two fast-developing regions have different systems, and different ways to produce and consume," Rivera said.

Last year, trade volume between China and Latin America increased by 8.16 percent year-on-year to $261.2 billion. China has become the second-largest trade partner to and a major investor in Latin America.

Rivera said that despite huge progress, issues such as trade imbalance need to be tackled to further tap the potential.

"The challenge we have is that Latin America is trying to sell more value-added products like manufacturing and technology to China, not just raw materials, which is our main export," he said. "We would like to have more fruitful trade relations."

Rivera also suggested that joint ventures between China and Mexico could be very profitable considering the easy access to the vast US market.

"Mexico has a free trade agreement with the US, so products from Mexico enter the US without any tariffs. Therefore, it will be a win-win cooperation for the joint ventures located and producing in Mexico with Chinese capital and products targeted at the US," he said.

Experts also called for more diversity in China's economic relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean.

Cooperation with the region will not only boost trade but also promote more investment and financial ties, said the Annual Report on Latin America and the Caribbean (2012-13), released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on May 23.