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China PM cements ties in landmark Uruguay trip

Publication Date : 24-06-2012


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday expressed an interest in having Chinese investors fund the construction of ports in Uruguay as the two countries seek to increase bilateral trade.

According to Uruguayan newspaper La Republica, Wen's pledge could help the country's long-standing dream of building a deep-water port in the east of the country become a reality.

Wen arrived in Montevideo, the capital of the South American nation, on Friday local time.

His 24-hour visit was the first by a Chinese premier to Uruguay since diplomatic ties were established in 1988.

During his talk with Uruguayan President Jose Alberto Mujica, Wen said he hoped that new areas of trade could be explored and called on the two sides to make efforts to promote sustainable and balanced trade growth.

He urged the two sides to enhance cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure construction, automobiles, energy resources and services.

Mujica echoed Wen's remarks, adding that his country can take full advantage of its land and resources to strengthen cooperation with China in animal husbandry.

The two sides later signed a series of economic, technological, environmental, agricultural, quality surveillance and telecommunications agreements.

Uruguayan Ambassador to China Rosario Portell told China Daily earlier that her country expects increased trade with China in software, finance and logistics.

Uruguay sees China as "the best potential market" for its software, as it has sold it to about 20 leading banks around the world, "but not yet to Chinese ones", said the ambassador.

China is good at producing computers and Uruguay is good at designing software, so there are great opportunities for the two countries to work together, she added.

Sino-Uruguayan cooperation in software and education offers great prospects, said Sun Yanfeng, an expert on Latin American studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"If bilateral cooperation in new areas can develop well, it will improve Sino-Uruguayan and Sino-Latin American trade," Sun said.

He Shuangrong, an expert on Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said whether the two countries can cooperate well in these new areas depends on how much Uruguay knows about the Chinese market and how it can promote its services to Chinese customers.

"Although Uruguay is the second-smallest nation in South America, its economy enjoys healthy growth and its society is relatively stable compared with some other Latin American countries," said He.

Sun said that although Uruguay was one of the latest countries in Latin America to establish diplomatic relations with China, the bilateral relationship is one of the most stable.

"Fewer trade barriers have been created by Uruguay, compared with other Latin American countries," Sun said, adding that Uruguay plays a strategically important role in relations between China and Mercosur, an economic bloc which groups Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.

China is currently Uruguay's second-largest trade partner and the top buyer of its wool, soybeans and paper pulp.

Bilateral trade reached US$3.4 billion last year, according to official figures.


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