CGTN / Youtube

This week, Latin America will convene in Chile for the Second China-CELAC Ministerial Forum. Margaret Myers, Director of the Dialogue’s Latin America and the World Program, speaks to CGTN on what to expect from the meeting. 

COMMENTS FROM MARGARET MYERS:

The Belt and Road Initiative and Latin America

“Latin America wasn’t originally part of the Belt and Road Initiative at all. The Initiative is focused primarily on Eurasia, and also to a degree Africa, but Latin America was left out for a number of years. Now, from President Xi Jinping and from other very high-level officials in China, we’ve been hearing considerable mention of Latin America in reference to the Belt and Road Initiative.”

“Certain countries in particular have been called ‘important nodes’ on the ‘natural extension’ of the Belt and Road. Many are thinking now that we might expect, if not as part of the China-CELAC [Ministerial] Forum this week, then perhaps over the coming months a formal inclusion of the region in the Belt and Road. But regardless of whether that happens or not, we’re seeing a lot of enhanced engagement on the part of Chinese companies.”

The Second China-CELAC Ministerial Forum

“I think it’s about a bit of both [agreements and dialogue]. I think we will see some major announcements. On the trade front, in particular, there have been talks that China will introduce an idea of a region-wide trade agreement. We don’t know exactly that would look like… Would it include CELAC as a whole, or certain sub-regions? Of course, that’s been attempted in that past, and it’s a challenging thing to achieve, but I think we’ll hear talk about that. We’ll possibly also hear talk about extending elements of the Belt and Road framework to Latin America. More in the way of concrete infrastructure projects potentially announced, as well.”

“Innovation is going to be a hot topic. I think there will be some cooperative agreements in production capacity, particularly manufacturing, upgrading other high-tech investments, and so on.”

Chinese Engagement in LAC

“We’ve seen a surge in Chinese activity over the past two decades. Since President Xi Jinping became China’s preeminent leader there’s been even more interest in the region, and there’s been more engagement by a much wider variety of Chinese companies, not just state-owned enterprises, but private ones. The influence has been remarkable, especially on the economic side. China has become the top trade partner for a number of countries in the region. Foreign direct investment is surging, especially in certain areas, infrastructure and extractives, for example. In finance, Chinese banks—China Development Bank, China Export-Import Bank—are providing billions in finance on an annual basis.”

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE: