ECLAC backs cooperation between China and LACMonday, October 18, 2021
SANTIAGO, Chile — Executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Alicia Bárcena says cooperation between China and Latin America and the Caribbean offers an opportunity to reduce global asymmetries and support a “transformative, inclusive” economic recovery that promotes sustainable development in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
“The COVID-19 crisis has deepened global asymmetries between developed and developing countries,” said Bárcena at the closing session of the two-day Second High-Level Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)-China Forum and the Sixth China-Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) Think Tanks Forum.
“This forces us to rethink multilateralism and, in this context, cooperation between China and CELAC in order to provide collective responses to the combined effects of the pandemic, climate change, and the growing inequalities in income, wealth, the digital economy, and access to financing,” she said.
The meeting, which brought together government representatives, university experts, and international officials, was co-organised by ECLAC with the Latin American Institute and the Bureau of International Cooperation of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese Institute of International Studies, the China Foundation for International Studies and the Association of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean (UDUAL).
It was also supported by Mexico's Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Bárcena said that China and CELAC are entering a new era of cooperation, but also in a very complex global context.
“Latin America and the Caribbean must seek to maintain, cultivate, and deepen constructive, harmonious, and respectful relations with all the actors in the international system, while setting our compass on our own interests in regards to the urgent task of constructing our development route.”
She said that the region needs to urgently make a leap in terms of quality innovation and productive diversification and, thus, leave behind the path of low investment and scarce technological progress to overcome poverty and inequality.
“The huge pending task for Latin America and the Caribbean is to make progress toward greater integration with a more pragmatic vision to enable the 32 CELAC countries to act jointly on strategic issues, such as access to and production of vaccines, the digital economy, protection of biodiversity, and climate action.”
She said there is also need to coordinate efforts around the rules of trade to foster quality foreign direct investment from China and achieve better conditions of international financing, particularly for middle-income countries.
Bárcena, stressing that China has “a long-term vision and clarity as to its horizons and goals”, said Beijing has achieved advances in technological innovation and overcome poverty “quickly and effectively”.
“For this reason, we believe it is very important to study and fully understand the 'One Road One Route Initiative' and assess the participation of the countries of this region in formats to be decided by each — aside from the 19 countries that have already joined the initiative — whether that be to advance in digital, aeronautical, or maritime connectivity, or in health or cultural aspects.”
The ECLAC official highlighted China's positive response to the region in terms of both access to, and purchasing of COVID-19 vaccines, and emphasised the opportunity to drive the joint production of vaccines with China and other countries based on existing cooperation initiatives with Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico.
In this context, Bárcena asserted that contributions from China will be essential for the implementation of the plan for self-sufficiency in health matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, unanimously approved at the Sixth CELEC Summit of Heads of State and Government on September 18.
ECLAC's executive secretary also said that China and LAC can collaborate to foster “clean, green, low-carbon development”.