Latin American and Chinese officials have opened two days of talks on trade and investment. The first China/Latin America and the Caribbean Foreign Ministers' forum
is taking place in China's capital, Beijing. The talks are set to end on Friday.
Four heads of government, including the presidents of Ecuador and Venezuela, traveled to China for the opening ceremony. On Thursday, they and 30 ministers heard President Xi Jinping set a trade goal of $500 billion dollars in 10 years. He also said he expects China's direct investment to reach $250 billion dollars in the next 10 years. Mr. Xi visited Latin America last year.
Trade between China and Latin America has jumped from $10 billion in 2000 to $257 billion by 2013. Oil, copper, iron ore, soybeans and fresh fruit are among the goods traded.
Jean-Pierre Cabestan is a professor of international relations at Hong Kong Baptist University. He told VOA that, as in Africa, China is using its economic influence to support its diplomatic and strategic
Before the meeting, the Chinese president restated
his support for Venezuela in its efforts at reforms. The South American nation receives almost all of its foreign currency from oil exports.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met Wednesday in Beijing with President Xi. Mr. Maduro said he secured a promise of $20 billion in new Chinese investment in the country.
Last July, officials from China and four other countries met to discuss creation of a new bank. The four were Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa.
The officials discussed what has been called the New Development Bank. It would lend money to developing nations in the same way as the International Monetary Fund does.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the BRICS nations, as the five nations are known, would start by providing a total of $50 billion in capital
. The bank would be based in Shanghai.