Hundreds of executives and officials from China, Latin America and the Caribbean gather in Changsha to learn of business opportunities and share knowledge on development challenges
CHANGSHA, China – With trade and investment between China and Latin America expected to nearly double over the next decade, opportunities abound for businesses from both regions that want to sell their products and services halfway around the world.
Hundreds of companies gathered to learn about those opportunities at the 8th China-LAC Business Summit Sept. 12-13, organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the People’s Bank of China, and the government of Hunan Province.
Among the strategic sectors showing the greatest promise for growth and investment in Latin America are infrastructure, transportation, agro-industry, telecommunications, and renewable energy. Panels including top government and private sector leaders from both regions discussed ways to boost productive investment and trade, and exchanged valuable know-how on how to tackle tough development challenges, from rapid urban development to environmental protection. They also learned about opportunities for equity investments in Latin America.
“Latin America has much to gain from deepening its relationship with China, just as China has much to gain from our region,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. “For our governments, this is a strategic priority. But much of the day-to-day building of those links will fall on the private sector.
China, which joined the IDB as a shareholder in 2009, already is the top trade partner for Brazil and Chile, and is expected to surpass the U.S. to become the top trade partner for Latin America and the Caribbean within a decade.
The IDB released a new studyon investments made by 98 Latin American companies in China, “ LAC Investment in China: A New Chapter in Latin America and the Caribbean-China Relations. ”Nearly all of those companies came from Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina, and one of the study’s goals was to examine their strategies to provide useful information to companies from other countries that might want to venture into China as well.
During the conference, urbanization experts from the IDB described the Bank’s innovative Emerging and Sustainable Cities initiative, which works closely with 50 fast-growing medium-sized cities throughout Latin America to help them plan for future transportation, sanitation, housing, citizen security, educational, green spaces and other needs before they arise. A short video outlining how the program works was shown, along with explanations on how China might adapt the initiative to deal with its own fast-growing urban centers.
The Summit also featured a workshop, organized by the IDB and the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, aimed at familiarizing Chinese firms with the environmental and social safeguards that infrastructure development projects in Latin America are increasingly expected to fulfill.
In order to help small and medium-size companies benefit from the expansion of China-LAC trade, the IDB also unveiled a new initiative called ConnectAmericas.com, an interactive social media website for businesspeople who want to establish contacts with potential clients, suppliers and investors; take online courses that will help them become agile exporters; access large databases of information on trade rules worldwide; and learn about a wide variety of financing options, ranging from IDB loans to commercial bank trade finance lines.
Launched in March, and offered free of charge, ConnectAmericas.com already has more than 11,000 registered members and has had more than 60,000 visitors. In Changsha, the portal launched the China-LAC business community, inviting more than 6,000 Latin American and Caribbean entrepreneurs living in China or interested in doing business with China and WHO belong to an existing community called LaRedChina.com, to join ConnectAmericas.com.