China-Latin America partnership good for all
The United States, of late, has raised concerns over the growing relationship between China and Latin America. China has been the second-biggest trade partner of Latin America since 2014. It is the biggest trade partner of Peru, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, and is a growing foreign investor in the region, not only in the natural resources sector, but also in industry, agriculture, infrastructure and service sectors. China also gives aid and loans to several countries in the region.
The US, especially President Donald Trump and his administration, should not complain about these developments because its actions are what prompted Latin America to look for alternative partners. Washington has adopted a protectionist agenda that is affecting many Latin American countries. The US is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, especially with Mexico and Canada. It has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (in which Chile, Mexico and Peru were members). And it is setting up trade and immigration barriers.
Traditionally, the US has regarded Latin American as its backyard. But now Latin America has established economic relations with other regions and countries that are growing faster, such as Asia, especially China.
Latin America's ties with China are growing, and this is quite natural. China is the world's second-largest economy with a growing market for many products that Latin America could export－not only natural resources, but also foods and industrial products (if the region could be more competitive in this field).
One of the factors that Latin America lacks to make its industrial sector more competitive is infrastructure, such as ports, seaports, highways, railroads, electricity grids. And that is exactly what China wants to help build through its Belt and Road Initiative and "shared future for humankind" policy.
Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China is offering cooperation through its expertise and finance to build infrastructure in Latin America, which will make the region more competitive. Once Latin America becomes more competitive, stronger economic development will follow, which in turn will raise people's incomes and improve their standards of living. And even the US could buy more quality products from a better-developed Latin America instead of worrying about drug trafficking and illegal immigration from its southern neighbors. As such, the US should welcome China's major involvement in Latin America, that will help make the region more prosperous and safe.
The author is a professor at San Marcos National University in Peru and director of its Institute of Economics Research.