BEIJING – Former Chilean president Eduardo Frei called on Monday for a “substantial change in relations between Latin America, the Caribbean and China,” and advocated an increase in investment and diverse exports to the Asian country that are still focused on minerals and fuel.
“We cannot continue doing more of the same,” Frei said in a speech in Beijing during the inauguration of the third forum of study centers (think tanks) of China, Latin America and the Caribbean, being held until Tuesday in Beijing.
Frei, Ambassador-at-Large for the Asia Pacific Region, insisted that “China and Latin America (which closed 2015 in recession) have a large scope for growth” and that investments in many sectors are needed.
Last March, a study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Development Bank of Latin America had acknowledged an unprecedented business expansion between China and Latin America in the last 15 years, during which workflows multiplied 22 times.
However, he noted that this growth model is still based on raw materials, which accounted for 73 percent of the region’s export to China (as compared to 41 percent of the world), while manufactured technological products only accounted for 6 percent (as compared to the 42 percent worldwide).
Frei called for a transformation of this model, especially now when China demands fewer raw materials.
The event, which has more than 50 participants, including representatives of think tanks and embassies, comes shortly before Chinese President Xi Jinping travels to Peru for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation on Nov. 19-20.