The stage is now set for Beijing and Latin American and Caribbean countries for the next five years to bring the relationship to an unprecedented level.
The two-day ministerial meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in Beijing saw the adoption of a five-year outline for interregional development on Jan 9, as well as plans to institutionalize the forum, which will be hosted next by Chile in 2018.
The plan covers cooperation in 13 sectors such as trade and investment, infrastructure, and energy and resources.
The forum marks the first time that China has hosted the 33-member body, which comprises all countries in the Americas except the United States and Canada.
Premier Li Keqiang, speaking to the heads of delegations — mostly the foreign ministers — stressed the importance of creating a fair business environment and solid legal protection for Chinese equipment.
He praised current relations between China and the Latin American and Caribbean countries and said that innovative methods of cooperation would boost the relationship and provide solid foundations for future success.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the China-CELAC relationship has entered a new stage, with overall cooperation and bilateral relations developing at the same time and facilitating each other.
Both Wang and his Costa Rican counterpart Manuel Gonzalez, who co-chaired the meeting with Wang, said that the China-CELAC relationship will provide a range of benefits and is not aimed at any third party.
The forum “will not affect or replace the exchange mechanisms either China or CELAC has established with other regions, “Wang said.
Chinese investment in the region is expected to increase to $250 billion over the next five years. Trade between China and the region grew from $10 billion in 2000 to $257 billion in 2013, driven largely by Chinese demand for commodities such as oil and agricultural products. In return, China has pumped billions of dollars of investment into the region. In July, China extended $20 billion in loans to Latin America for infrastructure development, another $10 billion in preferential loans and $5 billion for a cooperation fund.
Hu Biliang, a senior economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said closer ties between China and the Latin American and Caribbean countries is an irresistible trend, as both sides are now in a critical time of development.