xi's moments
Home | Americas

Trade talks expected to boost ties with Latin America

By SERGIO HELD in Bogota, Colombia | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-08 09:32

Negotiations now going on for a free trade deal between China and Uruguay could open more links between the world's second-largest economy and Latin America.

Uruguay and China completed a feasibility study on a free trade agreement last month, putting them one step closer to a deal.

Maria Supervielle, a consultant on international relations and negotiations in Uruguay, said there is a relationship of respect and trust between China and Uruguay.

"This favors trade between both countries, especially the meat sector, a major sector in Uruguayan exports," Supervielle said.

In the first half of this year, Uruguay exported about $1.8 billion worth of meat to global markets. China bought about 60 percent of Uruguay's sheep meat and beef during that period.

However, any agreement has to be approved by the Mercosur trade bloc, a four-member grouping of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

On principle, Mercosur forbids members from conducting trade negotiations with third-party countries individually. Under its rules, any trade deals with third parties must be negotiated jointly by all bloc members.

Uruguay is not opposed to other members participating in the negotiations with China. In fact, the country is leading a dialogue among the bloc for all four members to take part in the negotiations, or to remove any objections to Uruguay at the very least moving forward with the deal.

While Mercosur has traditionally focused on trade with other Latin American nations, it recently wrapped up negotiations for an FTA with Singapore, highlighting an ongoing shift in focus toward trade with Asia.

Henrique Reis, international relations manager at the China Trade Center Group that promotes trade, technological and cultural cooperation between China and Brazil, said there is room for Mercosur to create greater efficiencies. He told China Daily that the group is not as efficient today as it was 30 years ago when it was founded.

Stumbling blocks to the China-Uruguay deal have come from Paraguay, which currently does not have diplomatic relations with Beijing, and from Argentina, which opposes the idea of bilateral trade deals outside the bloc.

"Countries should look for the best opportunities. If Mercosur is not efficient now, countries will have to look for solutions to develop their business; that is what Uruguay is doing," Reis said.

Argentina has insisted on the need for an FTA between China and Uruguay to be discussed and approved by the bloc, a conversation that could lead to Argentina joining the deal.

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349