The China Signal - June 20
Trinidad & Tobago’s Phoenix Park Industrial Estate, Uruguay scraps plans for defence cooperation agreement
G’day, and welcome to The China Signal. This week, Chinese tenants sign on for Trinidad and Tobago’s Phoenix Park Industrial Estate, the Caribbean’s first BRI project; construction begins for El Salvador’s new sports stadium, funded by Beijing; Uruguay scraps plans for a defence cooperation agreement with Beijing; updated trade data, plus more. Read on.
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) 🧶 🤝
Trinidad and Tobago 🇹🇹
On Friday June 10, China’s Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Fang Qiu confirmed via Twitter that two Chinese companies will be tenants at the country’s Phoenix Park Industrial Estate (PPIE). This is the first official BRI project in the Caribbean, and is being developed by Chinese state contractor Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG).
Both companies - Summit Luggage Co., Ltd., and Docare Quanzhou Hygienic Product Company Ltd. - are light industry manufacturers, who claim they will collectively create 220 jobs and invest US$13 million into the economy.
Background: Beijing Construction Engineering Group (“BCEG”) 🔍
Founded in 1953, Beijing Construction Engineering Group (“BCEG”) is a Chinese state-owned construction enterprise and service provider. Listed 20th amongst the world’s top 250 international contractors in 2021, BCEG conducts operations in 31 countries across 5 continents, including Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. (RP)
On Tuesday June 7, Jamaican Senator and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, welcomed Chen Daojiang as the new Ambassador-Designate of China to Jamaica. (RP)
Infrastructure 🏗 🏟️
El Salvador 🇸🇻
~Article above is in Spanish~
The demolition of ‘Capitán General Gerardo Barrios’ Military School in El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, began in order to make way for the construction of the country’s new national stadium, as President Nayib Bukele first announced on December 31, 2021.
Beijing announced a donation to fully cover the construction of a new 50,000 seat stadium in December 2019 as a “token of the friendship” between the two countries following El Salvador’s diplomatic recognition of Beijing over Taipei. The military school will be rebuilt in a yet-to-be-determined location. (RP)
Belize 🇧🇿 + Taiwan 🇹🇼
Belize Ambassador to Taiwan Dr Candice Pitts says agreement between Chamber of Commerce and Exports Association of Taipei is another opportunity for commercial advancement | Breaking Belize News | June 16, 2022
A Меmоrаndum оf Undеrѕtаndіng (МОU) bеtwееn Веlіzе’s Сhаmbеr оf Соmmеrсе & Іnduѕtrу (ВССІ), аnd Taiwan’s Ехроrtѕ Аѕѕосіаtіоn оf Таіреі (ІЕАТ) was signed, adding momentum to the growing bilateral relationship between the two countries.
In March, Belize’s President John Briceno outlined specific aspects of the 2022-23 governmental budget, which will be implemented with the help of Taiwanese grants and concessionary loans (see TCS March 27). (RP)
~Article above is in Spanish~
The two-way trade relationship between Mexico and China increased by more than 22% from 2019 to 2021, with a trade balance that reached US$110 billion (compared to US$90 billion in 2019), according to new data released by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Mexico.
The trading relationship is heavily skewed towards Chinese exports to Mexico. “For every 10 dollars of trade exchange, 9 dollars are Chinese exports to Mexico”, the majority of them being capital and intermediate goods for the manufacturing industry, and high-tech products, detailed the Chamber of Commerce’s General Director, Graciela Narcia. (RP)
Trade volume between Peru and China exceeded US$37 billion in 2021, which meant an expansion of 60% over the previous year; this figure also accounts for one third of Peru's total trade volume, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Peru Liang Yu has affirmed.
Liang Yu commented that China's investment in the South American country exceeded US$30 billion, thus turning Peru into the second largest investment destination for the Asian Giant in Latin America.
"Approximately 200 Chinese companies have invested in Peru in sectors such as mining, energy, electricity, transportation, communications, and finance…”
Natural Resources + ESG
Peru’s executive power launched a temporary working group to keep track of the commitments agreed upon by Chinese miner MMG and the Indigenous communities protesting against its Las Bambas copper mine.
The announcement, published in the official gazette El Peruano, follows a decision regarding a 30-day truce made public on Thursday by representatives from the six communities involved in the conflict that forced MMG to halt operations for more than 50 days, the longest in the mine’s history.
Great Power Competition
China 🇨🇳 + US 🇺🇸 + Mexico 🇲🇽 + Brazil 🇧🇷
A new report from the Eurasia Group Foundation investigated how citizens from nine countries are changing their perceptions about the US, China, and other dynamics amid the growing global democratic recession. In Latin America, polls were conducted in Brazil and Mexico.
According to the results, Brazilian respondents continue to look favorably on American ideas of democracy, and most think their government should emulate the US. Most respondents believe it good for Brazil if the US, rather than China, is the world’s leading power. Meanwhile Mexican respondents had some of the least favorable views of the United States. Nearly a third answered that China would be a better world power than the US, arguing that China sets a good example for national development. (IA)
Uruguay’s Parliament has stopped the advance of a proposed defence cooperation agreement with China following the Senate’s unanimous approval earlier this month by the Defence Committee. The agreement included exchange and cooperation provisions for defence goods and services as well as logistical support, cooperation in multilateral peacekeeping initiatives, joint exercises, and other areas of cooperation such as disaster relief. The proposal was presented to Congress by the previous Tabaré Vázquez’s center-left Frente Amplio administration. Now the Senators of the center-right Partido Nacional, which is led by Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou, have requested that the deal be paused for reconsideration. (IA)
Argentina 🇦🇷 + China 🇨🇳
Beginning June 23, China will host the 14th annual BRICS Summit, the first such meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The heads of state of all five member nations will attend virtually as they have for every summit since 2020, and will be joined by the President of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, who hopes to push for the group to accept his country as its newest member. Earlier in May China pushed through a declaration calling to expand the group to include more members of the Global South, although no specific candidates were mentioned. Fernandez also sent a letter to the organizers expressing this desire, and Argentina’s representatives in Beijing, Brasilia, Moscow, New Delhi, and Pretoria have pushed for each member’s support. Argentina is also in line to join the OECD, although the Fernandez administration has shown considerably less enthusiasm than its predecessor the Macri administration. (IA)