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Jorge Heine – Marco Polo goes to South America One Belt, One Road due East

15 mayo 2017 No Comment

Marco Polo goes to South America One Belt, One Road due East

by Jorge Heine,Ambassador of Chile to the People’s Republic of China

Published in: http://www.chinainvestment.com.cn/type_hgzc_tzsj/7071.html

In 2016 Chile became the largest fruitexporter to China, with some US$ 1207 million dollars, an amount larger thanthat of equivalent exports from neighboring countries like Thailand or Vietnam,or than that of agricultural powerhouses like the United States or Australia.By value, one out of every four fruits imported by China ( at some US$ 5billion in 2016), hails from Chile. Though traditionally known in China for itswine, Chile is now becoming more and more popular among Chinese consumersbecause of its cherries, blueberries, kiwis, apples, grapes, prunes, avocadosand peaches, that can be found on supermarket shelves from Chengdu to Shanghai,and (increasingly) in e-commerce sites such as Taobao andJD.com. In the courseof twelve years, ever since the signing of Chile´s FTA with China in 2005,Chilean fruit exports to China increased by 240 times, from US$ 5 milliondollars to the current figure. With a growing Chinese middle-class eager for ahealthier, higher-quality diet, all projections indicate that the fresh fruitmarket will continue to expand at high rates.

Yes, Chile is already the largest fruitexporter in the Southern Hemisphere.  Ithas considerable comparative advantages for that, including its Mediterranean climate,a plague-and-disease-free environment ensured by its finis terrae condition andnatural geographic barriers ( like the Andes mountains, the Pacific Ocean andthe Atacama Desert), as well as some four decades of experience in exportingfresh fruit to all corners of the world. Still, it is remarkable that Chinaimports more fresh fruit, by definition a highly perishable and fragileproduct, from the nation that is farthest away from it on the globe, than fromany other. If anything, it shows that, while we may not be living at “the endof history”, as Francis Fukuyama famously argued after the end of the Cold War,we may well be at “the end of geography” as we have known it, with advances intransportation and telecommunication technology shrinking the world into theproverbial global village—something for which we have the modern container and cold-chainfacilities to thank.

This is especially apparent in the case ofrelations between Latin America and Asia, continents that for much of thetwentieth century interacted little, but that in the new century have witnesseda veritable flourishing of trade and investment flows, something in which Chinahas led the way. Whereas total trade between China and Latin America onlyamounted to a paltry US$ 10 billion in 2000, this figure grew exponentially toUS$ 267 billion in 2013, a growth of 2600% in 13 years. As a result of that,for Brazil, Chile and Peru, China is now their # 1 trading partner, and formany other Latin American countries it is the second largest. For a regionwhich had for most of its history looked to North America and Western Europe asits main trade, investment and diplomatic partners, this is a major shift, onethat is still being internalized and assimilated. One reason Latin America managedto handle the effects of the 2008-2009 financial crisis so effectively is duetoits burgeoning trade with Asia ( and ,chiefly, with China). This allowed itto increase considerably its exports, pay down its foreign debt and buttress itforeign exchange reserves, thus being in a strong  financialposition to withstand the rippleeffects of the Wall Street-induced recession.

That said, it is also true that the end ofthe commodities super-cycle has brought that burgeoning expansion of Sino-LACtrade to a screeching halt, and even to a slight downturn—by 2016,that trade reached some US$ 230 billion, still a very large figure, but onethat reflects a static, rather than a dynamic trade environment across thePacific. The ripple effects of this have been felt across South America, as anumber of countries experiment negative growth. This is aggravated by the factthat global trade as a share of world output is also going down. Whereas formuch of the past two decades trade grew at twice the rate of global GDP, it isnow only growing at half of it.

The purpose of this brief note is toexamine how China´s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative can help to reversethis situation and bring back to the fore the dynamism that characterizedtrans-Pacific trade in the first decade of the new century. It will do so bylooking first at how OBOR is seen from Latin America and what its potential forthe region entails ; it will then examine its significance for South America;it then looks at the case of Chile, a regional pioneer in relations with China,and the country most dependent on trade with China (with one fourth of itsexports going to the latter ), but one where, paradoxically, Chinese investmenthas lagged behind that in several of its neighbors ; some concluding remarksput OBOR and its significance for Latin America in perspective.

OBOR beyond Eurasia

One the face of it, OBOR, albeit a centralplank in Chinese foreign policy, has little to do with Latin America. Launchedby President Xi Jinping in 2013, it has been anchored in two pillars—the SilkRoad Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road—aimed atrevitalizing and infusing with new vigor relations between Asia and Europe. Byland and by sea, and harking back to the days of the original Silk Roadtraversed by Marco Polo from Venice all the way to today´s Hangzhou, it isdesigned to fulfill a number of objectives. Through investment in railroads,highways, ports, tunnels and bridges, it would facilitate commerce and the flowof goods and people from Central and Western China through Central Asia all theway to Eastern and Western Europe. In so doing it would foster economic growthin the provinces of China that lagged behind the high rates seen in the coastaland Eastern areas. It would also bring into the wider circuits of internationaltrade the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, now part of the Commonwealthof Independent States (CIS), many of them landlocked and still not fullyintegrated into the world economy.

The broader aim of OBOR, of course, isnothing if not ambitious: none other than recreating Eurasia, through suchhigh-visibility projects as a high-speed, bullet train from Beijing to Moscowthat would cut the time of the legendary Trans-Siberian Railroad service fromseven days to three, and otherwise bring the world´s fastest-growing and mostdynamic area, i.e., East Asia, much closer to the world´s largest market. i.e.,that of the European Union. Free trade agreements between China and thecountries along the New Silk Road, although still merely a possibility, mightadd further impetus to such a far-reaching venture.

At first, OBOR was greeted by theinternational community with a certain degree of curiosity, albeit one temperedby a healthy doses of skepticism. The project was so ambitious that for someWestern observers it had a certain element of “pie in the sky” to it. At a timeof world-wide belt-tightening and budget-cutting, where were the resources forsuch an enormous, transcontinental project going to come from? Moreover, evenif the resources were to be generated, which institutions would be able to dothe follow-up and follow-through needed to implement the various parts andcomponents of such a monumental undertaking?

Yet, in the course of the past three years,that initial skepticism has been replaced by genuine interest and a sense thatthis is something that is actually going to happen—in fact ishappening. The establishment of the US$ 40 billion dollar Silk Road Fund ; thatof the Beijing-based Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank (AIIB), with acapitalization of US$ 100 billion dollars; and that of the related,Shanghai-based New Development Bank ( the so-called “BRICS Bank”), with anequivalent amount of capital, have all been milestones in the unfolding of thebuild-up towards OBOR. The same goes for the now regularly scheduled freighttrain service from Chengdu and Xian to Warsaw and Budapest, massively cuttingtransport time.

The original rationale behind the foundingof the AIIB was the ostensible need of US$ 8 trillion dollars of investment inAsia´s infrastructure in the course of the coming decade, something that thelimited budgets of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank would beunable to meet. Even with the AIIB in the mix, the amount is of such magnitudethat it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve, but at least theexistence of another IFI, specifically tasked with targeting Asiainfrastructure projects, is a step in the right direction. The same goes forthe Silk Road Fund.

In the course of the past year, however,the need to give a further impetus to international trade and connectivity hasbecome, if anything, even more apparent. The upsurge of protectionism andisolationism in some countries of the North Atlantic has put an additionalpremium on facilitating free trade across the world and keeping the momentum ofglobalization, a process that has done so much to lift so many people out ofpoverty in the Global South. At the same time, OBOR, part and parcel of abroader Chinese foreign policy design that emphasizes cooperation ininfrastructure development not just in Asia, but also in Africa and in LatinAmerica, has come to be seen as relevant beyond Eurasia.

 

South America and the Asia-Pacific

In this context, it must be kept in mindthat a key challenge for LAC is to increase productivity. The vast spaces ofSouth America need to be interconnected, something that is especially valid forthe Atlantic and the Pacific coasts, that are in urgent need of bi-oceaniccorridors that facilitate logistics and transport. Similarly to China, in SouthAmerica it is the coastal regions that are the most developed, whereas theinterior has been mostly left behind. Chinese technology, be it in railways,construction,telecommunications or energy, can help to overcome this. In thecourse of the past decade China´s vast landmass and its huge population havebeen much more fully integrated through bullet trains and mobile telephony.Something similar can be done with the vast spaces of South America’s interiorand other parts of the region.

In one of those curious coincidences ofhistory, China´s own needs at this stage complement very much those of LatinAmerica. As China transitions from its condition as a (mostly) FDI- recipientcountry to one where ODI becomes more prominent, with excess capacity in itsconstruction industries and with companies flush with cash at a time when thereturn on domestic investment in China has fallen, China is looking foropportunities to deploy these assets. OBOR is one of the most visibleexpressions of this—thus its relevance for LAC.

Greater investment flows in both directionsacross the Pacific and joint ventures between Chinese and Latin Americancompanies would also help to change the First World-Third World type of tradepattern extant at present, and in which (more in the case of South America thanin Mexico and Central America), the region sells mostly natural resources andvarious raw materials to China in exchange for consumer goods and industrialinputs, something untenable in the long run.

 

Chile and China in perspective

China is often described as one of the mainbeneficiaries of globalization, as, over the past four decades, it grew atdouble-digit rates, lifted 700 million people from poverty and is now the world´ssecond largest economy, with a GDP of US$ 11 trillion. While much smaller,Chile is often described as another of those beneficiaries. For much of the1990-2010 period it grew at an annual average of 5%, balancing economic growthwith inclusive social policies and political stability, and achieving a percapita income of US$ 15,000, the highest in Latin America and  double that of China.

A key source of that growth has been itsexports, which grew by a factor of nine from 1990 to 2007—from US$ 9billion to US$ 81 billion. Chile´s highly successful export-led developmentmodel is based on a number of key elements : 1) the signing of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the world´s mainmarkets ( in fact, Chile is the country with the highest number of FTAs, 25with a total of 64 countries), which allow it duty-free access to countriesthat represent 80 per cent of the world´s GDP; and 2) the notion of “globalizationas Asianization”—that is, an early realization ( as far back as the early nineties),that the most dynamic part of the world economy was going to be in Asia, andthat that was where Chilean diplomacy and international trade policy had toplace its bets. Thus, by 2009, half of Chilean exports went to Asia and threeof Chile´s top ten export markets were in Asia—with China rankingfirst at 23.1 percent ;Japan third, with 9.1 percent, and South Korea sixth,with 5.9 percent.

In 2016, bilateral trade between Chile andChina reached US$ 31 billion, making China Chile’s # 1 trading partner andChile China´s third largest trading partner in Latin America. One reason forthis huge volume of trade ( higher than that of China with many of itsneighboring countries, some of them much bigger than Chile ) is the FTA signedin 2005, and which has led to a four-fold increase in trade in twelve years,and whose deepening ( and thus move from goods to include services as well) isbeing negotiated in 2017.

Yet, as mentioned above, this flourishingof bilateral trade has not led to an equivalent increase in Chinese investmentin Chile, which is still quite limited. There are many reasons for this, andthey need not detain us here . Yet, as might be expected from an open economythat has traditionally attracted a considerable amount of FDI from Europe,North America, Japan and Australia, and is ranked as one of mostbusiness-friendly in the region, there are many opportunities for Chinesecompanies to invest in Chile. This is especially true of the infrastructure andenergy fields, though mining, agribusiness and the hospitality industry arealso significant areas of interest. The establishment of the China ConstructionBank in Chile, which opened for business in Santiago in April 2016, with amandate for acting as the clearing bank for all RMB operations in LatinAmerica, should facilitate this.

In terms of OBOR, however, perhaps the mostrelevant project pertaining to Chile may well be the proposed trans-Pacific,fiber optic Internet cable mooted in January of 2016 by Chile´s then Vice Ministerof Telecommunications, Pedro Huichalaf, during an official visit to China. Thisled to the signing of an MOU with his counterpart at the National Developmentand Reform Commission (NDRC), in which both governments committed to considerthe issue further and undertake the necessary feasibility studies, somethingpresently being put into place. At 19,000 km, this would be one of the longestsuch Internet cables.

The logic here is straight forward : in thenew century, as important as physical connectivity is the digital one. Data isthe new gold. And as any look at the world map of Internet cables (whichtransmit 90 percent of the world´s Internet traffic) will reveal that, althoughthere are fifty such cables crossing the North Atlantic, there is none connectingAsia with South America. The net result is that data flow between both regionsis painfully slow, as voice and data have to be routed via North America .

 

By way of conclusion

In this perspective, OBOR reaches waybeyond its already ambitious Eurasian span. As part of China´s broader approachto international cooperation, it reflects a certain view of how to provide anadded impetus to development, one that puts infrastructure and logisticsfacilitation at center stage, thus spurring foreign trade and exchanges. In thepast decades, IFIs have made poverty reduction a key concern. While no doubt akey priority, it is one that needs to be balanced by one that considers thesupply side of economic activity and employment creation, in turn key tools forthat very poverty reduction. China´s own experience is that the creation of amodern infrastructure network is a vital component of economic growth.

The development of a similar network inSouth America, whose Southern Cone already provides about one fourth of all thefood China imports, would be highly beneficial, reducing the costs oftrans-Pacific trade and giving a further impetus to China-LAC exchanges, at atime when it is badly needed. More and more, the competitiveness of products inthe global market is determined not so much by the tariffs and customs dutiesthey are subjected to ( which are being lowered across the board  in many cases), but by the amount of time ittakes to get them to market in the right condition. Transport and logistics, andthe associated infrastructure conditions, are thus central.

It is often said that a significantobstacle to enhanced ties between Latin America and the world´s most dynamicregion, East Asia, is sheer distance. Yet, as Chile´s fresh fruit exports to China(and to many of China´s neighboring countries) shows, distance need not be aninsurmountable barrier. In the key challenge to bring the region and the world´sfastest growing markets ever closer, OBOR in its broader sense has thepotential to play a central role.


拉丁美洲国家与东亚之间在增进关系方面遇到的最大障碍就是距离,而距离并非不可逾越的障碍。应对拉近彼此距离这一重大挑战,一带一路倡议发挥着重要作用

文|贺乔治(Jorge Heine)智利共和国驻华大使   翻译|王晓波

2016年中国成为了智利最大的水果出口国,出口额达到12.07亿美元,远超其邻国泰国、越南,或者美国、澳大利亚这样的农业大国。以前智利出产的葡萄酒在中国比较有名,但现在中国的消费者更青睐来自智利的樱桃、蓝莓、猕猴桃、苹果、葡萄、西梅、杏和蜜桃。从成都到上海,各大超市的货架上都能看到它们。此外,电子商务网站,比如淘宝和京东,也开始销售来自智利的水果。自2005年智利与中国签署自由贸易协定后12年来智利出口到中国水果的数量增加了240倍,从最初的5百万美元增长到现在的12.07亿美元。由于中国的中产阶级消费阶层越来越追求健康、高品质的食品,预计未来的新鲜水果市场规模还将持续高速增长。

事实上,智利已经成为了南半球最大的水果出口国,因为它在这方面占据优势,包括适宜的地中海气候、良好的土壤条件和天然的地理屏障确保了其免受瘟疫和灾害侵扰(像安第斯山脉、太平洋和阿塔卡马沙漠),以及40多年向世界各地出口水果的丰富经验。从地理位置上来说,智利是离中国最远的国家之一,但中国仍决定从智利进口水果这种极易腐烂和损坏的产品,这的确是非常难能可贵的。这充分说明,一方面我们并没有生活在弗兰西斯·福山在冷战结束后曾做出的“历史的终结”这一著名判断中,但另一方面我们确实生活在“地理终结”的时代。因为随着交通和电信技术的进步,世界正逐渐缩小成一个众所周知的地球村。

这一点在拉丁美洲与亚洲的关系方面表现得尤为突出。上世纪这两个大陆因地理位置遥远而鲜有互动,而在本世纪彼此间的贸易和投资迅速繁荣,其中中国起到非常重要的引领作用。2000年,中国与拉丁美洲间的总贸易额只有微不足道的100亿美元,到2013年,这一数字达到2670亿美元,13年间增长了26倍多。中国目前是巴西、智利和秘鲁的第一大贸易伙伴,也是许多拉美国家的第二大贸易伙伴。从历史上看,拉丁美洲地区长期以来一直将北美洲和西欧视为其重要的贸易、投资和外交方面的伙伴,现在出现的这种现象的确是一个重大改变。拉丁美洲国家之所以能够有效地应对2008年至2009年期间爆发的金融危机,原因之一就是其当时迅速展开与亚洲国家主要是与中国的贸易往来,使其出口大幅度增加,增强偿还外债能力和增加外汇储备,从而保持财力,并经受住了由华尔街引发的经济衰退所造成的连锁反应。

但另一个现象也不容忽视,即大宗商品超周期的结束令中国与拉美国家不断扩展的贸易陷入了停顿,甚至略有下滑。2016年的贸易额是约2300亿美元,这虽是一个非常巨大的数字,但也反映出太平洋两岸间的贸易出现了停滞。南美洲也已经感受到了它所带来的连锁反应,因为一些国家正在经历负增长。同时由于全球贸易占世界产量的比重也在下降,就使情况变得更加严重。在过去20年的大部分时间里,贸易增速一直都是全球GDP增速的两倍,可现在它却只有GDP增速的一半了。

指出这一现象的目的是为了引起人们对中国一带一路倡议的重视,因为它能帮助世界扭转这一局面,重振本世纪第一个十年跨太平洋贸易的活力。但这取决于拉丁美洲各国如何看待一带一路倡议的内容和它带给该地区的发展潜力,并且认真考虑它对南美洲的重要意义。以智利为例,作为南美洲第一个与中国建交的国家,在贸易方面十分依靠中国,可是与之不协调的是,中国在智利的投资却少于其它几个邻国。可见,拉美国家非常有必要深入思考一带一路倡议和其重要性。

超越欧亚大陆的一带一路

从表面看,虽然一带一路是中国的一项重要外交政策,但它似乎与拉美国家没什么关系。这是习近平主席在2013年提出来的,包括丝绸之路经济带和21世纪海上丝绸之路,旨在提振亚洲与欧洲间的经济,并为它们的关系注入新活力。通过陆地和海上,在当年马可·波罗穿行过的从威尼斯到今天杭州的古丝绸之路上重新规划,实现新目标。通过投资建设铁路、公路、港口、隧道和桥梁,从中国中、西部经过中亚到达东、西欧,为商业及货物和人员流通提供便利。这样做不仅能促进中国这些较落后地区的经济发展,也能扩大与前苏联中亚共和国,也就是现在独联体(CIS)中的一些国家进行国际贸易的范围,因为它们中的许多国家被内陆所包围,仍未完全溶入世界经济的格局中。

当然,一带一路倡议还有更宏伟的目标,那就是再现欧亚大陆昔日的辉煌,比如通过开通从北京到莫斯科的高速列车,能够将横贯西伯利亚的那条著名铁路的行驶时间从七天缩短为三天;还有就是拉近世界上发展最快、也最具活力的东亚地区与世界最大的市场欧盟之间的距离。中国与新丝绸之路沿线国家的自由贸易协定虽然尚处在商议阶段,也将会对这一具有深远意义的事业起到推动作用。

一带一路倡议刚被提出时曾令国际社会感到好奇,并且也引起一定程度的疑虑。在西方一些观察人士看来,因为它听上去过于雄心勃勃,所以有点“空中楼阁”的感觉。特别是当今世界整体处在节省开支和压缩预算的形势下,这样一个巨大的、跨洲际项目的资金从哪里来?而且,即便是能够筹措到资金,由于它涉及的方面和领域实在太多了,什么样的机构能够承接如此大型的项目?

但是,经过过去三年的初步运作,不仅最初的疑虑已经被真正的兴趣所取代,而且现在人们普遍相信它将能够实现。事实上,是正在实现。拥有400亿美金的丝绸之路基金、总部设在北京、资本金达到1000亿美金的亚洲基础设施投资银行(AIIB)以及拥有相同资本额、总部设在上海的新发展银行(即所谓的“金砖银行”),都已经成为全力配合和推动一带一路倡议的里程碑。已经开通的从西安和成都开往华沙和布达佩斯的货运班列也大幅度地减少了运输时间。

成立亚投行时最初的设想是投入8万亿美元,用于未来十年亚洲基础设施的建设,因为仅靠世界银行和亚洲发展银行有限的预算无法满足这一需要。即使有亚投行的这笔资金,满足亚洲基础设施建设的巨额需求仍有困难,但至少这样一个国际金融机构的设立是朝正确的方向迈进了一步,而且它是专门针对亚洲基础设施项目成立的。丝绸之路基金的设立也是如此。

去年,进一步推动国际贸易和交往的需要表现得更加突出,这是由于北大西洋一些国家的保护主义和孤立主义势力开始抬头,对促进世界自由贸易和保持全球化发展态势增添了新的压力,而事实上,正是自由贸易和全球化帮助南半球的许多人民摆脱了贫困。恰恰在这样一个时间节点上,一带一路作为中国整体外交政策的一部分,强调了在基础设施发展方面加强合作的重要性,而且不只是在亚洲区域,也包括非洲和拉丁美洲,这样它所产生的意义就超出了欧亚大陆的范围。

智利瓦尔帕莱索港

南美洲和亚太区域

在这样的背景下,对于拉美国家来说,一个重要的挑战就是提高生产率,那么南美洲宽阔的空间就需要互相连接起来,特别是在大西洋与太平洋沿岸之间,迫切需要构建有利于物流和运输的海洋走廊。而且与中国类似,在南美洲国家也是沿海地区经济最发达,而内陆城市经济则较落后。中国在铁路、建筑、电信和能源开发方面的先进技术能够帮助这些国家解决这一问题。在过去十年中,借助高铁和移动通讯,中国辽阔的内陆地区和大量的人口实现了充分有效的连接,因此南美洲大面积的内陆地区与其它区域也可以效仿类似的做法进行连接。

历史上也曾有过这样的巧合,即中国现阶段自身的需要在很大程度上可以与拉丁美洲的需要互为补充。因为中国正在从外国直接投资的接受国向海外投资的资金输出国转变,而且由于国内投资的需求减少,建筑行业出现了产能过剩和现金盈余,因此它正在寻找有效利用资产的机会。一带一路倡议就是这方面最明显的一个体现,而这与拉美国家是有很大关系的。

巨额的投资实现了在太平洋两岸的流动,中国与拉美国家间成立的合资公司也有助于改变目前第一世界与第三世界间形成的贸易模式,即南美洲国家(不包括墨西哥和中美洲国家)主要将自然资源和各种原材料卖给中国以换取中国的消费品和工业品,这种模式是无法持续的。

智利与中国的未来前景

中国通常被认为是全球化的主要受益者之一。在过去的四十年里,它实现了两位数的增长,并且使7亿人民摆脱了贫困,现在已经成为了世界第二大经济体,国民生产总值达到了11万亿美元。智利虽然比中国小很多,但也被认为是全球化的另一个受益者。

从1990年到2010年的大部分时间里,智利年平均增长率都维持在5%的水平,而且经济保持均衡增长,社会政策包容,政局稳定。人均收入达到了15000美元,是拉丁美洲国家中最高的。

智利经济增长的主要来源依靠出口,它的出口额从1990年到2007年增长了9倍,从90亿美元增长到810亿美元。智利成功地依靠出口取得发展的模式是基于这几个重要因素:1.与世界的主要市场签订了自由贸易协议(FTAs)(事实上,智利是世界上签订自由贸易协议最多的国家,共与64个国家签署了25个自贸协议),这使得它可以免税与占世界GDP80%的国家进行贸易往来。2.提出了“全球化即亚洲化”的理念,早在上世纪90年代初,智利就意识到世界经济最具活力的地区在亚洲,因此智利应当将其外交和国际贸易政策的着眼点放在亚洲。2009年,智利一半的出口货物都发往亚洲,而且在智利最大的十个出口市场中,亚洲就占三个,其中中国位居第一,占23.1%;日本列第三,占9.1%;韩国列第六,占5.9%。

2016年,智利与中国的双边贸易额达到了310亿美元,使中国成为了智利的第一大贸易伙伴,同时智利也是中国在拉丁美洲的第三大贸易伙伴。两国能够取得巨额的贸易交易量(远远高于中国与其邻国的贸易额,虽然它们有的比智利大许多)得益于双方于2005年签订的自贸协议,它使两国的贸易额在12年时间里增长了四倍。2017年双方正在协商将交易向纵深发展(即在货物贸易的同时加入服务行业的内容)。

但是,如前所述,双方贸易的繁荣并没有带来中国对智利投资的同样增长,也就是说,中国对智利的投资还是很有限的。这是由于多种原因造成的。智利的经济政策公开透明,被公认为是该地区经商环境最佳的国家,曾经从欧洲、北美、日本和澳大利亚吸引过大量的外国投资,因此对中国公司来说,在智利进行投资还是有许多机会并值得引起兴趣的,尤其是在基础设施、能源、采矿、农业和服务业领域。2016年4月,中国建设银行在智利的圣地亚哥设立了分支机构并已开始营业,它被授权是拉丁美洲地区进行人民币业务的结算银行,这为中方在当地的投资提供了便利条件。

从一带一路的层面看,与智利最相关的项目应当是2016年时任智利电信部副部长Pedro Huichalaf 在对中国进行访问时提出的跨太平洋光纤互联网电缆。当时他与中国国家发改委(NDRC)的相关领导签署了一份谅解备忘录,双方政府都承诺要进一步考虑这个项目,并展开必要的可行性研究,现在这方面的工作正在进行中。这一电缆长达19000公里,建成后将是同类互联网电缆中最长的一条。

修建这样一条电缆的意义不言而喻:在本世纪,数据的连通与实体的连通同样重要,数据是新的财富。从世界互联网电缆地图中会发现,虽然有50条这样的电缆跨越北大西洋地区,但在亚洲与南美洲之间却没有一条。这就使得两个地区间数据传输的速度非常缓慢,因为它们需要绕道通过北美洲。

一带一路倡议已经超越了欧亚大陆的范围,作为中国更广泛地参与国际合作方针的组成部分,它体现出为发展添加新动能的思路,因此它将基础设施建设和物流便利化放在了中心位置,希望借此促进对外贸易和交流。在过去的几十年里,国际金融机构已经将减贫列为最关切的工作。这无疑是正确的,但它必须与经济活动的供给侧和创造就业结合起来考虑,因为它们才是真正实现减贫最关键的路径。中国自身的经历充分证明,建立一个现代化的基础设施网络是保证经济增长的一个至关重要的环节。

既然南美地区已经有四分之一的商品出口到了中国,那在南美洲发展类似的网络系统肯定能够获益颇丰,因为它目前急需降低跨太平洋的贸易成本,并为中国与拉美国家的交往增添新动能。当前全球市场产品间的竞争日趋激烈,这就不仅要求关税和清关费用应当大幅度降低,同时产品的运输和上市时间也要缩短。在这种情况下,交通、物流以及与其配套的基础设施条件就显得非常至关重要了。

人们通常认为,拉丁美洲国家与世界上最具活力的地区东亚之间在增进关系方面遇到的最大障碍就是距离,但是,智利的新鲜水果能够出口到中国以及许多其它中国的邻国已经表明,距离并非不可逾越的障碍。在应对拉近彼此距离这一重大挑战时,一带一路倡议发挥着重要作用。

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