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May 31, 2019

At first glance, China's engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) looks a lot like what it's doing in Africa. Just as China surpassed Europe as Africa's largest trading partner, China has similarly overtaken the U.S. as LAC's largest export market.

While China's trade with Africa dipped significantly from 2014 through 2017, it's a different story in the Americas where trade has steadily increased from $140 billion in 2008 to now more than $260 billion -- significantly more than the $204.5 billion in trade that China did with Africa last year.

Just as in Africa, the bulk of China's trade with the Americas is commodities, mostly soybeans, metal ores and oil. And just as regional leaders in the Americas are concerned about the growing trade imbalance with China, they're also eager to borrow ever larger amounts of money from Beijing to finance new infrastructure.

Worries about the proverbial "debt trap" are just as pronounced in LAC as they are in Africa.

So, while there are a lot of parralels between China's engagement in Africa and the Americas, there are also some stark differences.

Fudan University doctoral candidate Santiago Bustelo is an expert in Sino-South American relations and also specializes in China's relations with Brazil. He joins Eric & Cobus to discuss his research in this field and what China's increasingly important economic ties with the Americas means for Africa.


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