Chinese Premier Li Keqiang left Beijing on Sunday morning for official visits to Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Chile.
Li’s Latin American tour is expected to focus on infrastructure, commerce, education, railways and energy deals.
Li will hold talks with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Tasso and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
During his visit, Li “will explore the possibility of diversifying trade with Latin American countries and importing more high value-added products” said China’s Ministry of Commerce.
Li will discuss industrial and technology cooperation, possibility of Free Trade Agreements, human resources training. The Chinese Premier is also expected to announce financial support for the region.
China is now the top trading partner of Latin America and China’s development banks pour more money into the region than the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank.
China is Brazil’s biggest trade partner, with bilateral trade between the two reaching $83.3 billion, up 10% on 2012, and expected to exceed $90 billion in 2014.
But those figures have been disproportionately driven by growth in China’s infrastructure and consumer market, and concomitant growth in its appetite for mineral and agricultural commodities, in which Brazil is rich.
Meanwhile, China will invest $50 billion in infrastructure development projects in Brazil, announced the country’s deputy Foreign Minister this week.
“There are about $50 billion in new projects. We need to wait till the end of the visit to specify the [exact] figures and what kind of projects it will be,” Jose Alfredo Grasa Lima told reporters on Thursday.
Details of the investment will be divulged during the Chinese Premier’s official visit to Brazil next week.
Brazil, a huge country with poor roads, has historically faced delays in getting its commodities – soy from the Western state of Mato Grosso, for example, or iron ore from the north – to ports. Once at the ports, there has not always been enough capacity to get it loaded quickly onto ships bound for China.