Latin America: Despite criticism for its labour & environmental performance, Govts. Strengthen their relationship with Chinese investors
The world has changed dramatically in the past three years, outgoing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet told the second ministerial meeting of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC-China) in the capital Santiago on Monday. When the inaugural triennial meeting between China and the 33-nation Western hemisphere bloc took place in Beijing in January 2015, there was no Paris Agreement on climate change; no 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda; and a return to economic protectionism was unimaginable, Bachelet said. Since that first meeting the forum has made progress on environmental cooperation, said Heraldo Muñoz, Chile’s foreign minister. “We’re supporters of multilateralism, of governing to face problems like climate change and natural disasters together,” said Muñoz.
China has also greatly increased its international presence through the Belt and Road infrastructure initiative (BRI). The project took centre-stage at this year’s CELAC-China Forum. Parties released the Declaration of Santiago, which identifies environment as one of eight priority areas for “mutual benefit and development”; and made a formal declaration on Latin America’s new role in the BRI. A more detailed Cooperation Plan for 2019 – 2021 is expected soon.
The first China-CELAC forum announced the 2015-2019 Cooperation Plan, with President Xi Jinping grabbing headlines worldwide by pledging to invest US$250 billion in the region and increase trade to US$500 billion within the next decade. Expectations on how the partners would follow such big commitments loomed large in Santiago.