On June 26, local time, Premier Wen Jiabao delivered a speech entitled Trusted Friends Forever at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) in San Diego.
Wen said Latin America and the Caribbean is a magical land known for its vast expanse, spectacular landscape, rich resources and splendid cultures. Latin America and the Caribbean today is a major emerging power on rapid rise and plays an increasingly important, constructive role in global economic governance, sustainable development and other critical issues. In spite of the geographical distance, the two sides have a time-honored history of friendly exchanges. Entering the new century, relations between both sides have embarked on a fast track of development, showing sound momentum of all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-tiered growth. The world today is undergoing major development, major adjustments and major changes. Stronger win-win cooperation and mutual reliance between both sides serves the fundamental interests of the people and balanced development, prosperity and stability of the world. Wen put forward the following proposals:
First, deepen strategic cooperation on the basis of mutual political trust. China proposes to launch a cooperation forum between the two sides as a higher platform for enhancing overall cooperation. China would like to set up a regular foreign ministers' dialogue mechanism with the CELAC Troika and explore the possibility of establishing a China-CELAC leaders' meeting mechanism at an appropriate time.
Second, expand common interests with a focus on economic cooperation and trade. Both sides should develop balanced and sustainable trade ties and bring the trade to over US$400 billion in the next five years. China will initiate a cooperation fund between both sides and Chinese financial institutions will contribute a first tranche of US$5 billion to the fund for the joint investment in cooperation projects in manufacturing, high and new technologies, sustainable development and other fields. China will coordinate the efforts in setting up a special loan of US$10 billion to facilitate cooperation in infrastructure development. China is ready to establish industrial cooperation mechanisms with more Latin American and Caribbean countries and is considering signing currency swap agreements with more Latin American and Caribbean countries, settling bilateral trade with local currencies with them, and establishing more bank branches in each other's countries.
Third, safeguard food security through agricultural cooperation. China proposes to launch a China-Latin America and the Caribbean agricultural ministers' forum and to put in place an emergency food reserve of 500,000 tons between the two sides. The Chinese government will set up a special fund for agricultural cooperation and development and establish agricultural research and development centers, agricultural processing demonstration parks and agricultural investment zones in this region. The two sides will exchange agricultural experts and technicians and strive to bring bilateral trade in agricultural products to over US$40 billion.
Fourth, enhance people-to-people friendship through cultural exchanges. The Chinese government supports setting up Chinese cultural centers in this region and will offer 5,000 scholarships to Latin American and Caribbean countries in the next five years. China proposes to launch a scientific and technological innovation forum between the two sides for stronger cooperation in space and aviation, new energy, resources and the environment, ocean, and polar science research.
Wen finally said as China grows, it gets more closely linked with the world. This serves the fundamental interests of all Chinese people and will bring more benefits to people around the world, Latin America and the Caribbean included. Let us join hands and work together to usher in a new era of lasting friendship and common development between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) was established in 1948 to promote regional economic and social development and encourage economic cooperation among countries in the region. It is one of the regional economic commissions under the United Nations Economic and Social Council and has now 44 member states.