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US academic highlights growing Chinese investment in Latin America

US academic highlights growing Chinese investment in Latin America

London: The US and west in general should keep a close eye on China's growing influence in Latin America, says Dr R Evan Ellis, assistant professor of national security affairs in the Centre for Hemispheric Defense Studies, at the US National Defense University.

China is ramping up investments in new projects that will allow for the cheaper transportation of the main primary products it needs such as iron ore, petrol, copper, coal and soya. The US therefore needs to pay much closer attention to the growth of Chinese interests in 'its own backyard,' with Chinese-Latin American trade growing tenfold from $10bn in 2000 to $102.6bn in 2008.

Ellis outlined his take on the growing influence of China throughout Latin America at the recent launch of his new book - China in Latin America: the Whats and Wherefores - at Canning House, London.

He said: 'Hutchison Port Holdings and liner operator COSCO have been expanding their interests in Latin America for some years now and Chinese money is also helping to transform the region's infrastructure, especially with the building of an inter-oceanic corridor from northern Peru into Brazil. This will help with the export of soya from the Brazilian Mato Grosso region.'

The American academic also made reference to some of the problems that Chinese companies encounter in South America, notably the retreat by HPH from Manta, in Ecuador after a clash with the government of President Rafael Correa, over details of the concession agreement.

During his presentation Ellis cited the numerous visits by LatAm leaders to China recently (including that of President Lula, with an entourage that included 50 personnel from the Brazilian port sector), and of Chinese leaders to the region, and noted the $10bn that the Chinese government has lent to Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras to help it develop its deepsea oil reserves.  [23/09/09]