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China offers $35 bn for LatAm infrastructure, development


Brasilia, Jul 18 (EFE).- China has taken a key step toward closer political, economic and trade ties with Latin America, proposing a $35 billion fund to finance infrastructure and development projects.

Unveiled by President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Brasilia with leaders of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or Celac, the proposal includes an initial $20 billion fund for infrastructure projects.

China also offered to extend a preferential credit line of up to $10 billion and create an additional $5 billion fund for specific projects.

"China is proposing a very important relationship," which Celac has accepted, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the summit host, said.

Also taking part in Thursday's gathering were the presidents of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis; Cuba, Raul Castro; Ecuador, Rafael Correa; Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos; Chile, Michelle Bachelet; Guyana, Donald Ramotar; Suriname, Desi Bouterse; Uruguay, Jose Mujica; and Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.

"The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have an important proportion of mineral reserves, the second (largest) reserve of petroleum and a third of global freshwater reserves," Castro said.

"We have the challenge of working toward the industrialization of those natural resources," he added. "Links with the People's Republic of China can play a very important role in that" process.

Rousseff said Xi's offer will complement actions announced this week by the members of the BRICS group of large developing countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Of those, the most significant are the launch of a development bank, which will have an initial capital pool of $50 billion and benefit the BRICS and other developing nations, and a $100 billion contingency fund.

China invested more than $100 billion between 2005 and 2013 in Latin America, with the vast majority of that spending targeting the raw materials the Asian giant needs to continue posting strong growth rates.