Published On: Thu, Jul 10th, 2014

Chinese president to visit Cuba and Venezuela

xi152wayHAVANA, Cuba - China's president Xi Jinping will take his second tour of Latin America in two years, including visits to Cuba and Venezuela.

Xu Jinzhan, director for Latin America at China's Trade Ministry recently met in Beijing with a group of Cuban, Venezuelan, Argentinean and Brazilian journalists to address the advance of bilateral trade and economic relations between China and Latin America.

Bilateral commerce tends to increase, said Xu, as she pointed to the balance of trade in 2013, which was calculated at $251.6 billion. She added that such balance reached $80 billion in the first quarter of 2014, which translated into $6.1 billion more than in the similar period last year.

The Chinese official said that major imports from Latin America include oil, copper, iron and other mineral ores, with increasing lines of products from agriculture as well as aviation. China, on its part has exported machinery and light industry items to the region.

Xu said that the growing participation of Latin American countries in trade shows and congresses in China and the increasing interest of Chinese entrepreneurs in Latin America favour a better understanding of both markets and open new opportunities for the development of commercial relations.

She also referred to current free trade agreements with Chile and Peru and ongoing negotiations for similar accords with Costa Rica and she went on to stress the upcoming visit by president Xi Jinping to the region. Xi will be accompanied by an important business delegation, she announced.

During the meeting, which took place at the Chinese Foreign Trade Ministry building, in Beijing, the executive vice-president of China's Great Wall Industry Corporation, Gao Rufei, said that the Chinese space sector has actively participated in international commercial collaboration actions with countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru.

Gao Rufei recalled that in the 1980s, China and Brazil began space cooperation with a joint research on a series of satellites known as CBERS, whose fourth version is now in the works and a new satellite will be launched late this year.

China has also helped Venezuela to develop its communications satellites with land-based applications. The Asian nation built the Tupac Katari I communications satellite for Bolivia and has offered Argentina and Ecuador small satellite launching services.

At the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held January in Havana, China and Latin America announced the setting up of the China-Latin American forum, as part of strategic efforts to strengthen bilateral relations.

During his upcoming Latin American tour, Xi Jinping will participate at the sixth summit of the BRICS Group, made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, to take place July 14-16 in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. Xi is also scheduled to take part, on July 17, at the first summit of leaders from Brazil and China and the CELAC quartet of Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, and a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Xi Jinping will also visit Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba, where he will hold official talks with the presidents of the three Latin American nations and will wind up his tour on July 23.

Last year, the head of state visited Costa Rica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago.

As many consider that China will become the world's major economic power, Latin America continues to look for ways to reach economic prosperity through strategic regional integration alliances, and these two facts spark optimism for a fruitful relationship towards economic and social development.

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