Trade is fo­cus of Xi visit to three coun­tries

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN BAIJIE in Bei­jing an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn Zou Shuo con­trib­uted to this story.

China will sign agree­ments with Ecuador, Peru and Chile in ar­eas in­clud­ing trade, in­vest­ment, fi­nance and nu­clear power dur­ing Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s third trip to Latin Amer­ica next week, ac­cord­ing to the For­eign Min­istry.

China at­taches great im­por­tance to the de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial of Latin Amer­ica de­spite the re­gion’s slow eco­nomic growth in re­cent years amid global slug­gish­ness, ViceFor­eign Min­is­ter Wang Chao told a news con­fer­ence on Thurs­day.

Xi will make state vis­its to the three coun­tries be­gin­ning Nov 17. He will also at­tend the Asi­aPa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion lead­ers meet­ings in Lima, Peru, as part of the week­long trip.

While in Ecuador, Xi will talk with Pres­i­dent Rafael Cor­rea, meet with re­porters, at­tend launch cer­e­monies for Chi­nese-as­sisted projects and wit­ness the sign­ing of agree­ments, Wang said. It will be the first visit by a Chi­nese pres­i­dent to Ecuador since diplo­matic ties were es­tab­lished 36 years ago.

Zhang Xiangchen, a se­nior of­fi­cial at the Min­istry of Com­merce, said China will an­nounce as­sis­tance plans and is­sue loans to Ecuador dur­ing the pres­i­dent’s visit.

China will of­fer to help with re­build­ing work, in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion of hos­pi­tals, houses and roads in the coun­try, which was hit by a strong earth­quake in April, Zhang said. China has al­ready pro­vided $2 mil­lion as well as $60 mil­lion worth of ma­te­ri­als for quake re­lief, he added.

China will also ini­ti­ate negotiations with Chile over ex­pand­ing the free trade agree­ment that was signed 11 years ago, Wang said.

Since be­com­ing pres­i­dent in March 2013, Xi has vis­ited Latin Amer­ica twice, go­ing to Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mex­ico in 2013 and Brazil, Ar­gentina, Venezuela and Cuba in 2014.

China is the largest trade part­ner of Peru and Chile and the third-largest of Ecuador, and is the main in­vest­ment source for the three coun­tries. Last year, China’s di­rect in­vest­ment in Latin Amer­ica reached $126.3 bil­lion.

Al­though China’s trade vol­ume with Latin Amer­ica dropped last year, Latin Amer­ica’s agri­cul­tural ex­ports to China in­creased last year, Wang said.

Xu Shicheng, a re­searcher of Latin Amer­i­can stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said that China-Latin Amer­ica trade vol­ume dropped in re­cent years due to the price de­crease of com­modi­ties like crude oil and min­er­als.

Latin Amer­ica needs China’s sup­port in build­ing in­fra­struc­ture, fac­to­ries and hy­dropower sta­tions, he said.

China’s ca­pac­ity in steel, man­u­fac­tur­ing and equip­ment could be ex­ported to Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries to ben­e­fit both sides, he added.

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