ASIA: The China Challenge

As China’s economy lost steam, imports of Latin American commodities went south.  That reversal in trade turned into an incentive for Latin American companies to explore other business areas with the Asian giant and to diversify the basket of products and services to offer them.
|   By Ruth Morris   |
China lifted its foot off the economic accelerator in 2014, sapping demand for many of Latin America’s exports in raw materials. But even as commodity prices slip, Latin America’s trade relationship with China is gradually deepening and diversifying, experts said, offering a less bumpy road moving forward.
While commodities still account for the bulk of Latin American exports to China, non-commodity trade is on the rise. Non-copper exports from Chile to China increased at a staggering rate of 61 percent over the past three years. Starwood Hotels has seen a near doubling of Chinese travelers checking into their Latin America hotels. In México, tequila producers are betting China will become their number two customer, after the United States, in just four years.
Collaboration is gradually expanding into new industries too, including renewable energy, transmission technology and even earthquake-safe architecture. In July, Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored growing ties when he made an eight-day swing through the region, carrying a briefcase full of new trade and credit deals.
“There’s increasingly a sense that the commodities boom is not a forever thing,” said Margaret …

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