By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The 2011 China-Latin America and Caribbean Economic and Technical Cooperation Forum opened in Macau yesterday in the hopes to further boost trade ties between the two regions in this “post-financial crisis era”.
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said in the opening ceremony that China, Latin America and the Caribbean are developing countries and have become “major economies in promoting the development of the global economy”.
China is currently the second largest trade partner and the third largest investor in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 1979 when China opened to the outside world, total trade between China and Latin America was USD 1.26 billion. Afterwards the volume surged ten-fold to USD 12.6 billion in 2000 and then to USD 183.1 billion in 2010.
Between January and May this year, the growth continued and the bilateral trade worth some USD 85.93 billion, up 39 percent over the same period of 2010.
In addition, Latin America and the Caribbean had invested a total of USD 140.8 billion in China as of the end of 2010, accounting for 13.4 percent of global investment in China.
Meanwhile, China also held USD 52.3 billion worth of non-financial investment in Latin America as of the end of 2010, accounting for 18.8 percent of China’s total foreign investment in that period.
“As a trade cooperation service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking nations, and as the Portuguese language is one of the Latin languages […], Macau again becomes an ideal platform to promote exchanges and cooperation,” the Chief Executive said.
Vice-chairperson of the China Economic and Social Council, who jointly organised the forum with the Macau Foundation, Wang Shenghong, said in the opening ceremony that cooperation between the two regions has brought “tangible benefits” to their people, “indicating that such collaboration provides a win-win situation and is sustainable”.
On the other hand, President of the Macau Association for the Promotion of Exchange between Asia-Pacific and Latin America, Gary Ngai Mei Cheong, told reporters on the sidelines of the event that he hoped direct air links between Macau and the Latin American region could be launched and the SAR could train more people to become proficient in Spanish, in order to strengthen the role of the territory as a “service platform”.
Ngai also disclosed that the association is in talks with the University of Macau about opening post-graduate courses to improve local knowledge among the young of Latin America.
The forum attracted around 300 representatives of ambassadors, officials and business people from China, Latin America and the Caribbean to Macau.