China's trade with Latin America is growing twice as fast as U.S. trade with the region.
BY RUTH MORRIS
SHANGHAI -- Chinas dragon breathed fire into Latin America in 2010, as trade between the two sides shot up by a spectacular 51.2 percent, to $178.6 billion, and memories of the economic recession melted away.
China’s trade with Latin America is growing at nearly twice the level of US trade with the region. It also is significantly higher than the 31 percent increase in trade between the European Union and Latin America last year.
Experts warned however that Latin America still faces the challenge of diversifying its exports to the Middle Kingdom, moving beyond the raw commodities that China is so eager to buy, and further up the value-added scale.
"I feel a very important wave coming... actually no, I feel we are on the wave right now," says Rodrigo Contreras, Mexicos trade commissioner in Shanghai," and now is the time to try to capture the opportunities. China is knocking on our door-- in minerals, in fisheries, in Mexican products, in renewable energies, in automotive parts."
According to a Latin Business Chronicle analysis of data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Chinese exports to Latin America surged to $88.3 billion in 2010, by 62 percent, while imports increased to $90.3 billion, tracking a 42 percent gain.
Beyond the sheer increases on both sides of the balance sheet, the numbers showed Chinas trade deficit with Latin America shrank considerably to $2 billion last year, from $8.9 billion in 2009.
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Keywords: Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Venezuela