The three Latin American countries that participated in the recently concluded APEC summit in Beijing have shown a good understanding with the host country.
The Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, Michelle Bachelet from Chile and Peru’s Ollanta Humala have used the summit to make state visits or work with the aim of signing agreements with China and in doing so, improve bilateral relations.
Not surprisingly, China was in 2013 the first trading partner of Chile and Peru and the second one in Mexico.
The leaders have now agreed on the launch of a study on a free trade area among all APEC members, an area that encompasses 57% of global GDP and 44% of commerce. This is said to be China’s biggest accomplishment during the summit held this week in Beijing.
In China, Bachelet expressed her “strong support” for the initiative: “We are aiming for a future in which Latin America and the Pacific Rim, the most dynamic region of the century, realize their potential and create new opportunities and benefits for all its citizens,” said the Chilean President during multilateral meetings.
Chile was, in fact, the first Latin American country that established a free trade agreement with China in 2006, and Peru followed suit in 2010. Since then, bilateral trade has increased in both cases.
So far the relations between China and the region have been much more focused on trade and investment. To encourage the latter, the three leaders have called on authorities and businessmen in the country to invest in their territory, especially in infrastructure and energy.
In this sense, Mexican President Peña Nieto began his state visit with a bittersweet taste.
The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, asked for clarifications about the recent decision to cancel the juicy contract that would have enabled China to build a high-speed train line between Mexico City and Queretaro, a project valued at 4,800 million dollars.
The project had been awarded to a consortium led by state-owned China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC). As detailed by the official news agency Xinhua, Li called for a “fair treatment” for Chinese companies that want to invest in Mexico and Peña Nieto replied that, despite the setback, Chinese investment “remains welcomed” in the country.
In order to lower the tension for the Mexican decision not to give the project to the Chinese, Peña Nieto will meet Thursday with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
Both Humala and Bachelet were received by Xi on Wednesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Chinese leader assured the presidents of the two countries that his government is committed to advancing a project to build a railway to supply the Brazilian Atlantic coast with Peru’s Pacific shore line.
By creating a trilateral working group, Peru, Brazil and China want to speed up the construction of the corridor, which requires an investment of about 10.500 billion dollars. “China will actively participate in the construction of this infrastructure,” said Xi.