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Experts see a greater scope and depth as investments increase

Updated: 2014-07-23 07:34
By Wu Jiao in Caracas and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing ( China Daily)

China is not only increasing its investment in Venezuela, it is diversifying where it invests in the South American nation, experts said.

Su Zhenxing, a senior research fellow on Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said investment and financial cooperation "have been given a higher priority than a decade ago".

"The range of issues addressed and the cooperative pacts signed during the trip signal greater scope and depth in two-way collaboration. ... Today, we see three driving forces - investment, finance and trade. It is a great change," Su said.

Wang Zhen, former Chinese ambassador to Venezuela, said energy has been a traditional focus for bilateral cooperation, but that "there are far more other themes that are shaping collaboration", including infrastructure construction and contracting.

"A range of infrastructure projects intended for improving the well-being of Venezuelan people - water pipelines, agricultural technologies and housing projects - have brought tangible convenience to Venezuelans and have boosted a better national image of China in their minds," Wang said.

The two countries have made progress in financial cooperation and Wang estimated that the massive bilateral financing plan signed by both countries may further expand.

Experts also hailed the importance of boosting bilateral political coordination through top-level talks and contacts.

"There are considerable similarities or shared views between the two strategic partners when it comes to major issues in the world and fundamental conception regarding diplomatic policies," Su said, adding that the two sides should expand political contacts to create broader consensus.

Venezuela is China's fourth-largest trade partner in Latin America, and China is its second-largest trade partner in the world.

Bilateral trade reached $19.24 billion last year. From 2008 to 2012, average annual trade grew by 24.5 percent, outperforming the average China-Latin America annual trade growth of 10.8 percent.

Meanwhile, Venezuela is China's largest project contracting market in Latin America and an important investment destination. By the end of 2013, Chinese companies in Venezuela achieved an accumulated realized turnover on project contracting of $22 billion, about 40 percent of China's total in Latin America. The value of newly signed contracts reached $36.8 billion, about 39 percent of China's total in Latin America, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

In 2013, China's non-financial direct investment in Venezuela reached $270 million and focused on energy exploration, auto assembling and home appliances, the ministry said.

(China Daily 07/23/2014 page3)