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China and Latin America: a complementary relationship

The Asian giant found in our region the answer to its scarce natural resources. This is explained in an exclusive report prepared by the ConnectAmericas research team.

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Published by ConnectAmericas

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Trade relations between China and Latin America-Caribbean grew strongly under the principle of comparative advantages: China has a relative shortage of natural resources but an abundant workforce, while our region has the opposite factor endowments.

A document prepared exclusively by ConnectAmericas, titled “China: A unique opportunity for LAC businesses”, describes the characteristics and extent of this commercial relationship:

  • Total trade between the two countries grew almost 9 times since 2003 and accounted for over 255 billion dollars in 2014. The annual bilateral trade average growth rate was 20% in this period, while total global trade in the region grew 9%.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean exports to China exceeded 85 billion dollars in 2014 and grew at an average annual rate of 18% since 2003. Despite the distance, China is the region’s second export market as a whole. Exports remain highly concentrated in the primary sector (52% in 2014), although we can see certain signs of diversification.
  • Chinese imports represent almost two thirds of total bilateral trade between the two parties and amount to more than 170 billion dollars in 2014, after growing at an average annual rate of 21% since 2003. Approximately 17% of the region’s imports come from China, especially concentrated in the manufacturing sector (96%), primarily products with high tech content (40%).

If you are interested in learning more about the Chinese economy and the possibilities for Latin America and the Caribbean, we invite you to read the following document: “China: A unique opportunity for LAC businesses”.


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