Visitors gather at the booth of Argentine wine products during the fourth China International Import Expo in Shanghai. (Photo provided to China Daily)
In 2022, cooperation between China and Latin America took a big step forward.
The good news could not have been better. Argentina and Nicaragua joined the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, and figures showed that trade between China and Latin America hit a record high in 2021.
Official data showed that China's trade with Latin American countries in 2021 amounted to $450 billion, up 41 percent year-on-year, among which both imports and exports reached record highs standing at $222.58 billion and 229.01 billion respectively. China remained the second-largest trading partner of the region.
Experts believe the strengthened cooperation has shown resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as injecting vitality and confidence into the global recovery.
Trade between China and Latin America has enjoyed high-quality development despite mounting uncertainties such as geopolitical conflicts and economic downturn, said Zhou Zhiwei, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
He concluded that 2022 is a very productive year as cooperation has been strengthened under the BRI, setting the stage for further collaboration in trade, infrastructure and other fields.
In February, attention was drawn to closer China-Latin America ties when Argentine President Alberto Fernandez traveled to Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games and to mark his country's official entry into the BRI.
The move, with the two countries celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties last year, would pave the way for collaboration in trade, infrastructure, anti-pandemic cooperation, green development and the digital economy, as well as take the diplomatic and political relationship to new heights, said Azhar Azam, a market and business analyst.
China has cooperated with the Latin American country in boosting its infrastructure, a sector that many analysts believe the continent should put more effort into.
With Chinese investments and technological assistance, Argentina built one of Latin America's largest solar energy plants, Cauchari Solar Park, in Jujuy.
After officially launching commercial operations, the world's highest altitude facility provided power to 160,000 families. It turned into a poverty alleviation and social welfare effort when it hired locals after giving them technical training. The plant was also projected to generate $400 million in net profits for the province.
Argentina is the 21st nation in Latin America to formally join the China-led initiative and the first to do so of the top three regional economies, which also includes Brazil and Mexico. Brazil is also one of the countries in the region that has its trade performance with China hitting new highs, with trade between Brazil and China reaching $135 billion in 2021, the fourth consecutive record-breaking year.
Nicaragua joined the BRI in January last year. Cuba and China signed a cooperation plan to promote the BRI in December.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a written speech in December at the opening ceremony of the 15th China-Latin America Entrepreneurs Summit that China-Latin America relations have entered a new era of equality, mutual benefit, innovation, openness and shared benefits.
Zhou said China and Latin American countries have highly complementary economic advantages and their cooperation has shown great resilience and potential.
The two sides have made great progress in collaboration in infrastructure and agricultural industry, said Zhou, who called for more joint efforts in technological cooperation, including new energy, artificial intelligence and electric vehicles.