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Ibero-America and the Caribbean ‘Must Take Advantage of the Belt and Road,’ UN Agency Head Says

Nov. 2, 2017 (EIRNS)—Speaking in Santiago, Chile on Oct. 30, Alicia Barcenas, Executive Secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), affirmed that the nations of the region "must take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative, which will first connect Asia and Europe and then expand toward us."

Barcena, who attended last May’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing and has met several times with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, was speaking on the occasion of the release of ECLAC’s annual report, "Perspectives for Latin American and Foreign Trade." She said, according to Xinhua, that "I think there has been a very important strengthening [of trade relations] among China, Latin America and the Caribbean," but called for diversifying Ibero-American exports to China, "so that Chinese companies will invest in our region."

Technology, she said, is one area in which cooperation should expand, to the "mutual benefit" of both sides. "China has advanced a great deal in this direction lately," she noted, adding that "our task must be to look at cooperation plans in this area." Barcena cited the proposal to build an underwater fiber-optic cable to connect Chile to China as an example of such cooperation. She also emphasized that Latin American and Caribbean foreign trade is recovering, after five years of slowdown, and will grow by 10% in 2017, attributing this to "China’s and Asia’s leadership."

Xinhua points to ECLAC’s report that the increased trade between China and Ibero-America and the Caribbean, is eclipsing the United States and Europe as trading partners for this region. The United States is no longer the region’s primary trading partner.