Expert weighs China-Peru relations
As the director of the China and Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue based in Washington, Margaret Myers established the dialogue’s China and Latin America Working Group in 2011 to examine China’s growing presence in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Myers also developed the China-Latin America Finance Database, the only publicly available source of empirical data on Chinese lending to Latin America, in cooperation with Boston University’s Global Economic Governance Initiative.
“I have studied both Spanish and Chinese for many years and have focused extensively on both China and the Latin America region in other positions, albeit separately,” she said.
The first step was a baby one. When Myers was working for the Fauquier County schools in Virginia, she developed the county’s first Mandarin-language program.
Her knowledge of the Chinese language and China led her to work as an analyst for a couple of institutes. Before joining the dialogue, Myers worked as a Latin America analyst and China analyst for the US Department of Defense.
“Since arriving at the Inter-American about six years ago, I’ve been able to combine my expertise in both of these areas and to explore the increasingly complex China-Latin America relationship, which has developed at a rapid rate in recent decades,” Myers said.
Recently, Myers coauthored a book titled The Political Economy of China-Latin America Relations in the New Millennium, which examined how China’s engagement with Latin America has happened in a variety of ways.
When it comes to Peru, Myers pointed out that China and Peru have a longstanding relationship based on Chinese immigration to the South American country, which occurred over centuries.
“Chinese trade has been evident in Peru for many decades, but the economic relationship developed especially rapidly over the past two decades. Chinese companies have been primarily interested in Peru’s mining sector. Their copper mining investments have achieved varying degrees of success,” Myers said.
In addition, Chinese exports of generally hightech equipment are increasingly prominent in Peru, as are investments in various types of infrastructure, Myers said.
Peru also has sought to export agricultural products, such as fruits and fishmeal. But navigating China’s complex regulations has proven to be a challenge to Peru.
Myers said that it’s unclear to what extent Kuczynski will relax mining sector regulations in an effort to attract additional foreign investment, much of which would presumably come from China.
She said that excessive relaxation of existing regulations could have negative effects on the environment and local communities.
Myers believes Peru needs to work more to attract diverse Chinese investment. “China’s investment and trade with Peru remains focused on primary commodities. Copper, in particular, accounts for the vast majority of Peruvian exports to China. Peruvian officials must work to attract Chinese investment, while ensuring that it is increasingly diversified, sustainable, and promoting of long-term growth,” Myers said.
Myers said that China already has shown some interest in investing in a wider variety of sectors not only in Peru, but across the region.
She said it would benefit both that “Chinese companies, banks and officials should also seek out investment opportunities that will be supportive of Peruvian production capacity and long-term growth.
“I was very fortunate to have studied briefly at several universities in China, and most recently at the Johns Hopkins University–Nanjing University Center for China-US Studies,” she said.
“I learned much about Chinese government, society and economics from my Chinese professors at these institutions. Although, given the complexity of China and the Chinese language, I will of course be a lifelong student of both.”
The economic relationship developed especially rapidly over the past two decades .” Margaret Myers, director, China and Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue