Accompanied by a large delegation of ministers, businessmen and union leaders Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez concluded an historic visit to China, which included diverse treaties and the study of a China-Uruguay free trade agreement.
Uruguayan President Tabaré Vazquez made a twelve-day visit with ministers to several Chinese cities, which included meetings with Beijing leading officials and culminated with talks with president Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People. The two heads of state decided to establish a China-Uruguay strategic partnership “based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, so as to deepen and expand mutually beneficial and friendly cooperation in various fields between the two countries and jointly write a new chapter of bilateral relations”.
The visit had set the foundations for a free trade agreement, which is expected to be held in two years in time for the thirtieth celebration of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two countries. Likewise China is ready to invest in Uruguay’s infrastructure. President Xi Jinping said the Asian country is also looking forward to expanding cooperation in agriculture, clean energy, communications, mining, manufacturing and finance.
The strategic partnership includes the installation of Chinese electric vehicle factories in Uruguay, business interchange in information technology, citric exports and harbor investments.
16 agreements were signed in matters such as education, culture, tourism and football, besides others in communications, forestry, agriculture and livestock.
China is willing to encourage more investment in Uruguay, channeled toward infrastructure projects. In the meeting with Vázquez at the Great Hall of the People, Xi called on both sides to promote people-to- people exchanges and lift ties in culture, education, science and technology, tourism as well as football sport.
As for global affairs, Xi said that China is ready to strengthen collaboration with Uruguay in climate change, economic governance, UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, peacekeeping and South-South cooperation.
Echoing Xi’s remarks, Vazquez said that the establishment of a strategic partnership will begin a new chapter of Uruguay-China ties. Uruguay welcomes more Chinese investment in the country and is willing to negotiate a free trade agreement with China.
Forestry, grains and export agreements
Tabaré Aguerre minister of livestock, agriculture and fishing informed that China showed interest in buying Uruguayan pinewood production. Uruguay has 180,000-planted hectares of this kind of wood, good records of large-scale forestry in balance with native forest protection.
Also the minister signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s Grain State Administration to work on cooperation and development activities, commerce regulation, commercialization policies, technology investigation and innovation promotion. It also signed an agreement about watering with the Chinese Ministry of Hydric Resources.
Aguerre said that in ten years exports from Uruguay to China were multiplied almost 20 times. From 2005 to 2015 exports increased from 120 millions to 2100 millions dollars. “This represent the 25% of Uruguayan exports, and 98% are agroindustrial products”.
“Our duty is to open and expand markets for Uruguayan products” –he added- “we have to do what is needed to position Uruguay as a supplier of innocuous food and work about sanitary admissions. Our goal is to give opportunities to business owners and entrepreneurs”.
The minister also said that an agreement with the International Programs Office is on its way to sign a protocol for exporting Uruguayan blueberries, rice and honey to China.
In Aguerre’s opinion, this historic tour ends a three-year work process with the agro exports sector, and he said that a new era of bilateral relations between Uruguay and China was opened.
Also Uruguay and China ministries of Defense signed a cooperation agreement in which Uruguay will receive 10 ambulances, 6 buses, 14 tractors and 10 bulldozers; adding a total of 5 millions dollars. In December 2016 Uruguay will receive also tents, cots, water filters, kitchens, and vehicles for first aid attention.
Sources: Presidency, CCTV, Mercopress