(16 October 2012) The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, joined by ECLAC's Directors Osvaldo Rosales and Raúl García-Buchaca, met with high-level officials of the People's Republic of China as part of the first visit that the senior United Nations official carried out to the Asian country.
Ms. Bárcena held meetings in Beijing with Vice Premier Hui Liangyu and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
Vice Premier Hui stated that China values its relationship with ECLAC highly, and announced that his Government will improve contacts with the Commission in order to boost cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean. Hui praised ECLAC's role in this area, and stated that there is great potential for the two regions to strengthen their links.
The senior Chinese official explained the current situation and prospects in terms of his country's economy. He commented that the major achievements of the past 34 years do not blind them to the important fight against inequality to which they are committed. This is the reason for the emphasis on reducing town/city imbalances, narrowing the rural infrastructure deficit and making progress in innovation and technology.
The Vice Premier stated that he was in charge of programmes to tackle poverty in China, and that he therefore followed ECLAC's work on such matters with interest.
Alicia Bárcena took the opportunity to outline the basic message of ECLAC, stressing the importance of implementing equality for growth, as well as growing to implement equality. As demonstrated by the current international crisis in industrialized economies, inequality becomes an obstacle for growth and development.
The Executive Secretary of ECLAC also recognized that bilateral cooperation will be significant, as China has become a major global power and Latin America is an emerging continent. "Both economies are very complementary", she stated. "We will continue helping to strengthen cooperation between China and Latin America and the Caribbean", she added.
According to figures from ECLAC, in 2011 Latin America and the Caribbean's share of trade with China grew to 6% of Chinese exports and 7% of Chinese imports. The Commission predicts that, into 2020, China will continue to significantly expand its position as a trading partner of Latin America.
In an earlier meeting with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Ms. Bárcena analysed the economic and trade relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean. The Foreign Minister praised ECLAC's role in supporting closer relations between the two parties, and added that the United Nations regional commission is an important reference in this sphere.
The Chinese Minister explained that the reorientation of his country's economic model towards greater emphasis on the domestic market is a process marked by four characteristics: industrialization, urbanization, computerization and agricultural modernization.
He also underscored his Government's deep commitment to strengthening cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean, and indicated that he was already working on rules that would facilitate implementation of the proposals made by Premier Wen Jiabao during his recent visit to ECLAC.
Ms. Bárcena told the Foreign Minister that ECLAC had been working with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the region's governments along the same lines. The two then went on to discuss areas where it was possible to make progress in terms of trade, investment and cooperation.
On Monday, the Executive Secretary of ECLAC took part in the International Seminar on Economic Development: New Opportunities for China, Latin America and the Caribbean, which was organized by the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
The United Nations official also held meetings with other Chinese think tanks, including the China Development Research Foundation, the China Institute of Contemporary Relations and the Chinese-German Economic and Structural Reform Programme of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). She also met with the Vice Dean of the University of Beijing, as well as authorities from the Ministry of Trade.
From Wednesday 17 October, Ms. Bárcena will be attending the Sixth China-Latin America and the Caribbean Business Summit, which will be held in the city of Hangzhuo.
- Words by Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary, at the Sixth China-Latin America and the Caribbean Business Summit
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