Colombia and China made progress in signing trade agreements, within the framework of the meeting between Gustavo Petro and Xi Jinping during the Colombian president’s visit to Beijing where China upgraded its bilateral relations to a strategic partnership. In dialogue with Sputnik, economist Manuel Martínez highlighted how Colombia “enters into this Chinese global investment strategy.”
President Petro and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, moved forward with the signing of 12 commercial cooperation agreements within the framework of the bilateral strategic partnership between both countries, which involves Chinese investments in the South American country in technological, scientific, agricultural, environmental, and infrastructure projects.
In turn, the Colombian president held meetings with representatives of Chinese companies in charge of the construction of the first line of the long-awaited Bogotá Metro.
Likewise, one of the announcements that marked the bilateral meeting was the financing project for Colombian railway infrastructure to unite the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, in a strategic move for Chinese investments to have alternatives to the Panama Canal.
“It was a very beneficial visit in terms of rapprochement with China, because historically Colombia has been within the orbit of US influence,” Colombian economist Manuel Martínez Mantilla said in conversation with Sputnik.
“Even from Washington they have always said that Colombia is its main ally in the hemisphere and let’s say that there is a long history of very close relations, not only in economic terms,” he added.
The expert highlighted that the strengthening of the link with the Asian giant is “a novelty” for Colombia, which for the first time “looks towards other horizons with a very great opportunity to bring the country closer to other markets.”
Martínez highlighted the importance to the South American country for “generating integration with a booming country, a rising power that has a lot to contribute in technological, productive, and economic terms.” He also noted the active role that Petro’s government has taken to exercise sovereignty and maintain strategic relations with non-Western actors through the practice of “economic diplomacy.”
Although the South American country’s adherence to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative was not yet achieved, the cooperation agreements speak of the “strengthening of the Chinese strategic agenda” in the region and the benefit that having a new partner means for Colombia. “The agreements are broad and what stands out most is how Colombia enters into this Chinese global investment strategy,” he reiterated.
What President Petro has proposed, “has been precisely that investment will be made in railway projects, which is a great opportunity to develop and recover the national railway system that was lost many years ago and is an opportunity to connect the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean,” said Martínez. “That is one of the long-term strategies that President Petro has proposed since the beginning of his government,” he added.
According to the expert, the development of large-scale investment projects by China in the South American country represents “a much more direct approach between Colombia and the New Development Bank of the BRICS,” and from there “expand the sources of financing international cooperation of multilateral banks,” he added.
This approach to the financial orbit of the BRICS allows Colombia to diversify financing “for strategic projects related to reindustrialization, research in science and technology,” as well as “information and communication technologies (ICT),” he noted.
The “backyard” of the US is now Europe
According to the professor of the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of MGIMO, attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Boris Martinov, “the US is losing influence in the region.”
Martinov added that South America is no longer considered “the backyard” of the United States and pointed out that this concept “has migrated to Western European countries, while Latin America disassociates itself from such a designation.”
“Currently, Latin American governments are divided between those who defend their national interests and those who still hope for US “support”. The latter are becoming fewer and fewer. Colombia, a traditional ally of the US, is taking a clear direction towards China, which emerges as a new reference for many on the continent,” he added.
During the summit in Beijing, President Gustavo Petro said that strengthening ties with China exemplifies the type of harmonious relations that Colombia seeks to establish in a world that is becoming increasingly multipolar.
In this regard, the director of the Latin American Institute at Anhui University in China, Fan Hesheng, believes that the development of relations between Colombia and China could benefit all of South America.
“Historically, Colombia has been one of the countries with the greatest influence in South America. It has a high educational level, prestigious universities, and receives numerous foreign students, consolidating itself as an epicenter in Latin America. From this perspective, strengthening ties with China would enhance the connection of all of South America with the Asian giant, facilitating mutual understanding and expanding the Chinese presence in the region,” he noted.
According to figures, from January to December 2022, China was the second leading country for Colombian imports, with 24.2%, only behind the United States, with 24.3%, according to data from Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism.
Likewise, from January to August 2023, imports from China to Colombia accounted for 21.2%, compared to 24.2% with the United States. In the same period, 4.8% of Colombia’s exports were to China, only behind the US, with 26.6%, and neighboring Panama, with 8.5%.
(Sputnik) by Alvaro Roslik
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/December 9, 2023