Greater trade and investment between China and LAC needed to support expanding middle class

More than 1,200 business executives and government officials gathered at the Sixth China-LAC Business Summit in Hangzhou, China

HANGZHOU, China - As two of the world’s fastest-growing regions, China and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) should boost mutual trade and investment to meet the demands of their expanding middle classes, according to discussions held during the Sixth China-LAC Business Summit.

More than 1,200 businesspeople and government officials from both regions attended the two-day event, whose theme was “Trade and Investment Transformation, Greater Development.” The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and the People’s Bank of China, organized the summit, which was hosted by the municipal government of Hangzhou, an historic trading and cultural center in the Yangtze River delta of eastern China.

“For both China and Latin America, rising trade has translated into rising opportunity, improved social welfare, and an expanding middle class,” IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno said in his opening remarks. Companies from both regions “are capable of bringing factories, jobs and high-value products and services to each other’s markets to create the kinds of jobs and services that our increasingly affluent societies will demand in the coming decade.”

Trade between China and Latin America has grown around 25 percent a year over the past decade, fueling robust economic growth that has created millions of new jobs and lifted millions out of poverty, Moreno noted.

Participants, which included representatives of 735 Chinese companies and 390 Latin American firms, learned about the great potential for expanding trade in services, hearing from executives of companies such as e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is headquartered in Hangzhou, and Mexican information technology leader Softtek, which has operations in 30 locations around the world.

Speakers discussed how to forge connections between small and medium enterprises from both regions, incorporating them into international supply chains, and debated how to sustainably tap natural resources to provide food and energy while preserving ecosystems for future generations. Panel discussions addressed infrastructure needs for fast-growing urban populations and the need to develop efficient financial services.

IDB and China

President Moreno gave an update on a new equity investment platform that is being jointly created by the IDB and China’s Export-Import Bank. The LAC-China Investment Platform, which should become operational in the next few months, is expected to raise as much as $1.8 billion from private investors, to be invested in Latin American mid-cap companies and in firms focusing on infrastructure and natural resources.

The investment platform is just one of several joint efforts between the IDB and China, which became a shareholding member of the Latin American development bank in 2009. This week, the IDB signed an agreement with the People’s Bank of China to explore co-investments in Latin American development projects and another with the CCPIT to continue promoting trade and investment.

In thanking the Chinese hosts, Moreno noted that the greatest opportunities for growth in the coming decade will come “not from the industrialized North, but rather from this vast new current of South-South investment and cooperation.”

The IDB also released a new study prepared by its Investment and Trade Sector called “Pathways to China: The story of Latin American firms in the Chinese market,” which examines investment strategies by 85 companies from the region that have been successful in China.


On the second day of the event, company representatives from China and Latin America signed up for the Summit’s trademark business “matchmaking” sessions, which paired for more than 1,300 meetings potential clients and investors who were identified by the IDB and CCPIT as likely matches. Participating in the exercise were more than 130 small and medium enterprises from Latin America invited to China for the Summit by the IDB and 400 chinese firms.

National and sub-national trade promotion agencies from 25 Latin American countries, China and five of its provinces, plus several chambers of commerce and industry associations from LAC, were invited to participate in training and knowledge-exchange sessions to boost their ability to attract investment and increase trade.

Fabrizio Opertti, chief of the IDB’s Trade and Investment Unit, noted that “this represents a unique opportunity to generate greater understanding, cooperation and ultimately trade and investment between two of the world’s most dynamic regions.”