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Dialogue to enhance China’s relations with Latin America (2)

By Cheng Guangjin (China Daily)

08:08, August 10, 2012

CELAC, a new leading regional bloc, was formed on Dec 3, 2011. Latin American leaders proposed the grouping in February 2010 in Mexico, more than 60 years after the start of the Organization of American States.

It consists of 33 sovereign states of Latin America and the Caribbean region. Chile currently holds the rotating chair of CELAC.

Premier Wen Jiabao said in his speech at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean on June 27 that China would like to set up a regular foreign ministers’ dialogue mechanism with the Troika and hold the first round of dialogue this year.

Trade between China and Latin America amounted to $241.5 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 31.5 percent. China is the third biggest trading partner of Latin America, after the United States and European Union.

While giving a speech at the CELAC headquarters during his official visit to Latin America late June, Wen called for the two sides to increase bilateral trade to $400 billion in the next five years.

Wen also announced the creation of a cooperation fund with $5 billion to spur the development of the region’s manufacturing industry, as well as a $10 billion credit line for infrastructure cooperation.

Latin American experts are going to publish a book later this year on Wen’s proposals for China-Latin America relations, Xinhua News Agency reported.

“Economic trends in the first half of this year show specific China-Latin America ties are solid and preserved in fundamental areas,” said Fernando Reyes Matta, director of the Santiago-based Center of Latin American Studies on China, in an interview with Xinhua.

It was also notable that the region’s combined export volume to China is expanding fast while China’s investment in the region is also rising, he added.
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