Mexico City (AFP) – The leaders of China, Russia and Japan all descended on Latin America in recent weeks, jostling with the United States to increase their influence, invest and tap into resource-rich markets.
The latest arrival was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who on Monday was in Trinidad and Tobago, the second stop on a five-country tour that began on Friday in Mexico.
Abe’s visit began just as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his tour, which included stops in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba. Xi signed more than 100 trade agreements on the trip.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was in the region for a week from July 11, stopping in Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua and Cuba.
The United States remains Latin America’s top trade partner, but gone are the days when Washington could take the region for granted as its backyard.
“In two or three more years, China will displace the European Union as the second most important trade partner of the region,” said Osvaldo Rosales, head of the international trade division a the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA), a United Nations agency.
“That probably explains prime minister Abe’s visit. For Japan and South Korea it is important to counterbalance the increased ties the region is establishing with China,” he told AFP.
– Challenging US dominance –
Xi and Putin, who overlapped in Brazil, played to Latin American resentment toward perceived dominance of the region by Japan’s longtime ally the United States.
Together with Brazil, India and South Africa — their partners in the BRICS group of emerging nations — they announced a new $50 billion development bank and $100 billion reserve fund to rival the Western-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
– Risks and opportunities –
Russia’s trade with Latin America is not nearly as big as that of China, but Moscow may need support as the EU and the United States close their doors over the crisis in Ukraine.
Russia wants to use its role as a member of the BRICS group to increase ties in the region.
Full article: China, Japan and Russia zero in on Latin America (Yahoo!)