Mexican experts expect strengthened LatAm-China ties

Relations between Latin America and China are poised to strengthen over the coming years in various fields, Mexican experts have said.

"China is now already the second or top trade partner for all Latin American countries. I think that (position) will continue to consolidate," former Mexican ambassador to China Sergio Ley Lopez told Xinhua.

"There is an extraordinary complementarity between Latin America and China, and they will continue to work (together) in that sense," Ley Lopez said.

Countries in different regions in Latin America need to spur the economy by exploring new markets, and that will provide impetus for further regional collaboration, said the former diplomat, who is now head of the Asia and Oceania region department at the Mexican Business Council of Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology.

Raquel Leon de la Rosa, a research professor at the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP) based in central Mexico, said China's ties with the region have evolved from being primarily financial and political to being multidimensional.

"As part of China's relationship with Latin America there is what's called an 'omnidimensional' outlook, with cooperation in various fields, not just in politics and economic, but also in cultural and educational aspects," said De la Rosa.

China's relationship with Latin America is no longer "just about loans" or investments or "limited to economic matters," she said, adding that "increasingly more Latin Americans are seeing China through academic exchanges."

The growing number of Confucius institutes running in Latin America giving courses on the Chinese language and culture also indicates Latin Americans' growing interest in the Asian country, she said.

The strengthening of ties between China and the region is evident in the growing bilateral trade as well as in the upgrading of relations, such as the forging of a comprehensive strategic partnership with Mexico and Argentina, said De la Rosa.

Today, China is the region's second-largest source of imports and third-largest export destination, showed the latest report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

In 2000, Latin America accounted for 3 percent of China's total exports and 2 percent of China's imports. By 2013, those figures rose to 6 and 7 percent, respectively, said the report.

MEXICO, GATEWAY TO LATIN AMERICA

Paulo Carreno King, head of Mexico's investment promotion agency ProMexico, said China is promoting reforms to spur not only domestic growth, but also global development, creating an "attractive opportunity for interaction."

"Mexico is the gateway to Latin America. Mexico is the path to Latin America we see for China," he said, who believes the two countries can take advantage of their complementarity to enhance trade and investment in Latin America.

Mexico boasts a privileged geographical location, bordering the United States in the north and the Central America in the south, and a variety of trade agreements with other economies.

"For us, China will always be an attractive and vigorous market," said the Mexican business figure.

Due to a more restricted trade policy currently adopted by the United States, Mexico is bent on diversifying its export markets and China "is a strategic player" in that scenario, noted Carreno.

The two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership has led to doubled exports for Mexico, he said.

Stable contacts between Mexico and China have been instrumental in bolstering bilateral ties, former ambassador Ley Lopez said.

"Many high-level dialogues...between the two countries have also led us to practically have common development policies, and one of them is to spur small- and medium-sized enterprises," he said.

Ley Lopez noted that Mexico is "very interested in the mechanism created in China through Alibaba," a Chinese e-commerce giant.

He said Mexico can also benefit from the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which is aimed at building trade and infrastructure networks in countries along ancient Silk Road trade routes to seek common development and prosperity.

In his opinion, the initiative serves as a gateway to global free trade and sustainable development, and shows China is today "more focused on investment, infrastructure and development, instead of solely on trade."

Editor: zhangjunmian