Xi visit seeks Latin America free trade

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/9 23:23:40

Asia Pacific FTA particularly significant against anti-globalization drive

President Xi Jinping will pay a week-long visit to Latin America starting next week, a trip that experts said will promote a free trade agreement and further implement a framework proposed by Xi during his visit to the continent in 2014.

At the invitation of Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Xi will pay State visits to all the three countries from November 17 to 23, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a statement on Wednesday.

During the tour, Xi will attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting from November 19 to 20 in Lima, capital of Peru, Lu was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying.

The establishment of the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area (FTA) is expected to be discussed, which is particularly significant against the backdrop of anti-globalization drive in developed countries and the EU, Teng Jianqun, director of the Department for American Studies at China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday, citing Brexit and US president-elect Donald Trump as examples.

At the 2014 APEC meeting held in Beijing, the APEC member economies reached important consensus on starting the Asia-Pacific FTA, Xinhua reported.

The Chinese side is willing to promote the development of an Asia-Pacific FTA with Peru, safeguard the principle of free trade, and deepen the integration of the Asia-Pacific region, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a meeting with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in Lima on October 5.

"As Peru and Chile are members of Pacific Alliance, a deeply integrated trade bloc, they are willing to cooperate with China to promote a free trade agreement in a broader range," Yang Zhimin, a researcher with the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Experts agreed that the Latin American countries Xi is scheduled to visit are also eager to deepen economic cooperation with China as they have undergone economic recession.

"A '1+3+6' formula to promote bilateral cooperation, revealed by Xi when he visited Latin America last time, will be further discussed in his upcoming visit," Yang said.

During his trip to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba in July 2014, Xi put forward a "1+3+6" framework for promoting mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Latin America. "One" means one plan - the Chinese-Latin American and Caribbean Cooperation Plan (2015-19), with the aim of achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development. "Three" refers to the "three engines" of trade, investment and financial cooperation, while "six" means focusing on the six fields of energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, and information technology, Xinhua reported.

"Since Latin America and China are economically complementary - the former one boasting rich natural resources and the latter suffering production overcapacity, there are still plenty of business opportunities, such as infrastructure, river development and nuclear plants," Teng said.

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