SANTIAGO/BEIJING – The presidents of Argentina, Chile and Uzbekistan will pay state visits to China and attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation later this week.
Argentinean President Mauricio Macri will visit China from May 14 to 18; Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will visit from May 12 to 15; Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev will visit from May 11 to 15.
The three presidents are among the at least 28 heads of state or government who will attend the forum in Beijing, according to state-run Xinhua, the highest-profile international meeting on the Belt and Road since China put forward the initiative in 2013.
Last November, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the Chilean capital of Santiago for a state visit to the Latin American country.
Chile established diplomatic ties with China in 1970, the first country in South America to do so. Meanwhile, Chile was the first Latin American country to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, and the first one in Latin America to acknowledge China’s full market economy status.
Bilateral trade volume has grown fourfold since the FTA went into effect in 2006. China is now Chile’s largest trading partner, its largest export destination and the largest buyer of copper products.
Currently, Chile is China’s second largest source of wine imports, with bottled wine exports to China up by 46 percent in 2015. The two countries have signed a number of quarantine agreements on cherries, blueberries and avocados.
China has become an important market for Chilean cherries, blueberries, apples, grapes and a variety of seafood such as salmon. Chinese products with good quality and competitive prices are also popular among Chilean consumers. For example, Chinese-made cars have taken up a considerable share of the Chilean auto market.
China’s first RMB clearing bank in Latin America was opened in Chile in June this year, setting up a platform to upgrade financial cooperation between China, Chile and the rest of Latin America.