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China moves aggressively in the region

Thursday, January 15, 2015


China will invest some $250 billion across Latin America over the next decade, President Xi Jingping said last week.

Meanwhile, bilateral trade between Latin America and China is expected to rise to $500 billion a year.

Growth areas include infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, technology and agriculture.

The first country in Central America to see the effects of the new relationship is Costa Rica, which this month announced that it was studying the creation of Special Economic Zones, which will host Chinese light-manufacturing firms, in sectors such as auto parts and solar panels.

Products made in Central America enter the United States duty-free, thanks to free trade agreements.

By contrast, some products pay tax when imported from China.

Costa Rica also aims to export Costa Rican shrimp and crayfish to China.

Other products with potential in the Asian market include fish, meat and fruits.

Last December, Nicaragua announced that it was starting to expropiate land, which is needed for a China-backed inter-ocean canal.

Mexico is another country in which China is interested.

China Railway Construction Corporation is for the second time bidding on a high-speed train between Mexico City and the industrial hub of Querétaro.

The project is worth close to $3.7 billion.

The company last October won a bid to build the train, but the contract was revoked, following concerns about irregularities in the bidding process.

The Export-Import Bank of China had indicated that it would finance up to 85 percent of the project.