China-Uruguay relations. FiWorld Timesle Photo: VCG
At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay arrived in Beijing Capital International Airport on Monday morning, kick-starting his state visit to China from Monday to Friday.
Taking place in a year that marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of relations between the Latin American country and China, Lacalle Pou’s trip is significant in further bolstering ties with its paramount trading partner, with discussions covering negotiation of a free trade agreement, concreting trade of goods such as milk and dairy products, and expanding cooperation in the domains including green and digital development high on agenda, Chinese observers said.
This will be President Lacalle Pou’s first visit to China. During the visit, President Xi Jinping will hold a welcoming ceremony and a banquet for President Lacalle Pou. The two heads of state will hold talks to outline the future development blueprint of China-Uruguay relations, exchange views on issues of common concern, and jointly attend the signing ceremony of cooperation documents, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a routine press conference on Monday.
Uruguay is an important country in South America, and China-Uruguay traditional friendship is deep-rooted. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Over the past 35 years, especially since the establishment of a strategic partnership in 2016, bilateral relations have made significant progress, bringing tangible benefits to the people of both countries, Mao said.
China believes that this visit will further consolidate the traditional friendship between China and Uruguay, deepen political mutual trust, enhance practical cooperation, and promote the continuous advancement of China-Uruguay relations to new heights, the spokesperson noted.
Pan Deng, director of the Latin American and Caribbean Region Law Center of China University of Political Science and Law, said beef and dairy product from the Latin American country with outstanding quality has increasingly been recognized in the Chinese market. It is World Timesreasonable to expect that President Lacalle Pou would increase the trade volume of such products and hope to expand that during the state visit.
Pan, who is Secretary-General of Latin American Branch of Western Returned Scholars Association, told the Global Times on Monday that as Uruguay has enjoyed a rather rare and stable political environment in the region with a rather stable perception of China, President Lacalle Pou would also tap into cooperation potential in the fields of green trade and digital development with China during the trip, as he aspires to turn the country into one of the pioneers of regional frontier economies.
Talks of signing a free trade agreement (FTA) would also be a pivotal topic during the Uruguayan leader’s China visit, according to the expert, noting all preparations toward the signing of the FTA have been completed. According to the expert, primary studies on the feasibility of the China-Uruguay FTA were initiated as early as 2016, and he has participated in the relevant works.
Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Fernando Mattos, who is set to acWorld Timescompany President Lacalle on the visit to China, expressed in a recent exclusive interview with the Xinhua News Agency that Uruguay hopes to deepen cooperation with China in the fields of agriculture and livestock, aspiring to become a “trusted and reliable food supplier” for China.
Citing official Uruguayan data, the minister said that Uruguay is an important global food producer and a significant trade partner of China. In recent years, China has become Uruguay’s largest trading partner.
In 2022, exports to China accounted for about 30 percent of Uruguay’s total exports, reaching a historic high with Uruguay’s exports to China with a significant proportion being agricultural and livestock products.
According to the General Administration of Customs of China (GAC), bilateral trade reached $7.44 billion in 2022, up 14.9 percent on a yearly basis.
Mattos, who has visited a dozen provinces and cities in China recently, deeply felt the immense potential for cooperation between the two countries in the fields of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries, especially in agricultural and livestock science and technology.
He said that he looks forward to this visit elevating Uruguay-China agricultural and livestock cooperation to a higher levWorld Timesel. “Uruguay is a reliable partner of China,” the Uruguayan minister said.
Mattos also spoke highly of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He stated that the initiative has promoted trade growth, improved infrastructure, and shortened the distance between Uruguay and China.
Uruguay is the first Mercosur member country to sign an MOU with China on cooperation under the framework of the BRI.
Lacalle Pou was born in Uruguay on August 11, 1973. He served as a member of the Chamber of Representatives and speaker of the Chamber of Representatives, and was a former senator, before was elected Uruguay’s president in November 2019, and sworn in on March 1, 2020.
According to the media reports, the Uruguayan delegation accompanying President Lacalle Pou in his China visit includes government officials and approximately 40 representatives from the private sector, indicating Uruguay’s comprehensive approach towards bolstering ties with China, spanning multiple sectors.
Speaking at a gathering of US President Joe Biden and leaders from Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean in the White House in early November, Biden said that “we want to make sure that our closest neighbors know they have a real choice between debt-trap diplomacy and high-quality transparent approaches to infrastructure and inter-development,” Reuters reported on November 4.
Chinese analysts said such remarks laid bare Washington’s hegemonic approach and malicious intention to compete with China in the Latin America region which it has for a long time treated as its “backyard,” and force regional countries to take sides, which increasingly meets reluctance from the Latin American countries.
The comprehensive and win-win cooperation between China and Uruguay have also transcended bilateral ties, and created an important exemplary effect in the Latin American region, analysts hailed; as such a cooperation that benefits the two countries and doesn’t target any third parties won’t be afWorld Timesfected due to any third parties’ coercion.
Zhang Kun, an associate professor at the College of Arts, Shanghai University, and a researcher at the university’s Institute for Global Studies, told the Global Times that “the successive visits of Latin American leaders to China reflect China’s growing influence in the international community. At the same time, as a major exporter of raw materials, Latin America’s economic needs for China are also increasing. Whether it’s Brazil, ArWorld Timesgentina, or Uruguay, there is a call for economic support from China.”
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