China as a competitor of the European Union in Latin America
While Latin America’s trade with China is flourishing, and the Chinese government is courting Latin America, the European Union risks being outpaced. This is demonstrated by new cooperation initiatives within the framework of the second China-CELAC Forum, which took place in Santiago de Chile on 21-22 January 2018. By contrast, the third summit between the European Union and CELAC, originally scheduled for October 2017, has been postponed indefinitely.
China’s relations with Latin America are pragmatic, covering a broad political spectrum and evincing a strong focus on economic topics. But China is also projecting soft power to advance its interests in Latin America, promoting Chinese culture, fostering academic exchange, and welcoming future political leaders. China has displaced Europe as the second most important trade partner of Latin America behind the United States; in some of the region’s countries it has even become the most important trade partner. To further expand trade, the Chinese government invited Latin American governments to join the BRI. European FDI is still much more important in Latin America than Chinese FDI. But China is expanding and diversifying its investments in the region, and it has become an important lender for Latin American governments.
Europe should take the Chinese challenge in Latin America more seriously, engage more with Latin America and develop a clear strategy. Concluding and improving upon free trade and cooperation agreements with Latin America should be a high priority. Latin American and Caribbean governments are interested in creating a win-win situation and cooperating with both China and Europe. 
of free trade against the protectionist threats of the incoming US president. The Financial Times published an article titled, “Trump builds walls, Xi builds bridges in LatAm”.2 During his third visit to Latin America since becoming president in 2013, Xi Jinping not only made a stopover in Peru but also travelled to Ecuador and Chile. During those visits, he announced the establishment of comprehensive strategic cooperative partnerships with both countries. Hence, Ecuador and Chile have been promoted to the same level of partnership as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela and Peru.
In November 2016 the Chinese govermnent, replacing a document from 2009, published a policy paper on LAC that updates the strategy for the region. From the document it can be gleaned that China strives to make headway in Latin America. China’s demand for natural resources fuelled the commodities boom in Latin America (2004-2013). From a Latin American perspective, China’s growing economic presence in Latin America has stabilized the region more than its relations with other international partners. China supported Latin America (e.g., as a lender) also in the period of economic downturn, and it is keen to expand its influence now that Latin America is recuperating from recession.
2 More than one triangular relation
US politicians and researchers like to describe the economic and political advances of China in Latin America from the perspective of a triangular relationship with a still-dominant role of the United States. A recent book on the “China triangle” does not mention Europe even once, as it is, from this US perspective, not an actor of relevance in Latin America compared to China and the United States. This US view of its former “backyard” is definitively distorted. The European Union might have lost some of its glamour, but Europe is still present in Latin America; indeed, some analysts argue for the existence of a triangular relationship between China, Europe and Latin America.
While the United States has been experiencing a significant reduction of its participation in Latin American trade since around the turn of the millennium (from 56% of Latin American exports in 2001 to 46% in 2016 and from 46% of Latin American imports in 2001 to 32% in 2016), it is still Latin America’s most important trade partner, which is thanks to the United States’ strong trade links with Mexico and Central America. But US comparative advantages in Latin America might become mitigated by US President Donald Trump's protectionist policies and by changing Chinese investment patterns. In contrast to the Chinese charm offensive, the US government is not showing a genuine interest in Latin America. In his first year in office, President Trump did not visit Latin America; he also skipped the Summit of the Americas in Lima in April 2018, as the first US president since the establishment of this format. Moreover, it took 15 months (until March 2018) for the Trump administration to nominate an Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. What is worse, the Trump administration pursued a purely “negative agenda” against Latin America, opposing trade liberalization and immigration, and denigrating “illegal immigrants” as criminals
This shift in US-Latin America policy might represent a chance for Europe to improve its position and regain terrain in Latin America. After the inauguration of President Tramp, there were expectations and announcements that the European Union would strive to renew and update the existing agreements with Chile and Mexico and sign a new FTA with Mercosur before the end of 2017. But this target was missed. Moreover, the EU-CELAC Summit scheduled for October 2017 had to be postponed due to the conflicts between the Latin American governments on how to confront the Venezuelan crisis.
Finally, on 21 April 2018, the European Union and Mexico reached an “agreement in principle” on the main topics of a modernized trade agreement. But the negotiations have still to be completed. The negotiations with Chile started in November 2017 and were still not concluded in 2019. In contrast, the negotiations with the Mercosur relaunched in May 2016 came to an end in June 2019. But the agreement still has a long ratification process ahead. The EU Council, the European Parliament and the member countries of both organizations must give then- consent. Notwithstanding the delays in the current negotiations, it is appropriate to emphasize that even before the FTA with the Mercosur the European Union had signed association, free trade or political and cooperation agreements with 27 of the 33 LAC countries. In contrast, in 2018 China had only three FTAs with Latin American countries in place (with Chile, Costa Rica and Peru) and was in the process of negotiating another one with Panama.  From a European perspective, the economic agreements with Latin America are important “to ensure that trade and investment are rale-based” and “to preserve a strong multilateral trading system”.11
By contrast, in 2016 5.3% of total EU imports of goods (excluding intracommunity trade) came from Latin America and 6% of total EU exports were destined for Latin America, resulting in a positive trade balance for the European Union.16 Two-thirds of EU imports from Latin America were primaiy products, and almost 90% of EU exports to the region were manufactured goods.17 In the case of China, the relationship is similar: of Latin American exports to China (2016), 72% are products from the primary sector and 91% of Latin American imports from China are manufactured goods.18 In 2018, Latin America received 5.9% of China’s total exports and contributed 7.5% to total Chinese imports.19
In the period from 2000 to 2017, trade between China and Latin America has multiplied 24 times from USS10 billion to US$244 billion.70 The share of exports from Latin America to China rose from 1% to 10% and the share of imports increased from 2% to 18%. In only ten years - between 2001 and 2010 - exports (value) from China surpassed European exports to Latin America; and in 2014, China overtook the European Union as the region’s second most important trading partner (exports and imports) with the United States still as the first trade partner. Europe’s share in Latin American trade had decreased in the 1990s (exports from 24.8% in 1990 to 11.5% in 2000; imports from 20.2% to 13.7%).21 In this decade, Europe lost market shares to the United States which after 2000 for its part lost market shares to China. By contrast, the EU’s share in Latin American imports has not shown much variation since 2000 (approximately 14%). However, China’s exports have moved up the value chain and are competing more and more with high-quality products from the European Union (especially road vehicles and electrical machinery).22 Europe’s share (as a percentage) in Latin American exports has diminished - but not veiy much (from 12% to 11% since 2013).23
While China has displaced Europe as the second most important trade partner of Latin America, Europe still holds the upper hand as the principal investor- in Latin America. Moreover, European investments in Latin America are much higher than European investments in China. Between 2012 and 2015, European direct investment flows to Latin America equalled €363 billion; in the same period, European companies invested €89 billion in China (including Hong Kong).24 In 2017, the accumulated stock of European FDI in Latin America was €745 billion, while accumulated Latin American investment in Europe reached €273 billion.25 The European FDI stock in Latin America was higher than the combined EU FDI stocks in China (€176 billion; excluding Hong Kong), India and Russia.26 As a result:
Today around 40% of the FDI stock in the region’s largest economies comes from European countries, more than from any other origin. Latin America represents 11 % of the entire overseas assets of European transnational Anns, almost the same percentage as Asia (13%)... and much more than Africa (4%).27
In contrast, Latin America is not a maj or destination of Chinese FDI; in 2015/2016, the region had only a 4% share in Chinese transnational mergers and acquisitions.28 While Chinese companies have invested over US$110 billion in Latin
America since 2003, mostly between 2015 and 2016,29 it is still lagging behind Europe and other important investor countries.
Also, in regard to investment flows, companies from Europe are the largest investors. Between 2005 and 2017, 39% of the total value of announced new investment projects corresponded to firms from the European Union (compared to 32% from North America and 5% from China and Hong Kong). In 2016, 53% of the FDI in Latin America was coming from European companies, and in 2017 these companies accounted for 42% of identifiable funds, with US companies being second (28%).30 In 2018, only four (2017:4) Chinese companies participated in the 20 largest cross-border mergers and acquisitions of companies in LAC (in total Chinese companies participated in 19% of all transactions) - this, in contrast to six (2017:6) European companies and four (2017:3) companies from the United States.31
Renewable energy, telecommunications and the automotive industry have become the most important sectors for European FDI in Latin America. Between 2005 and 2017, nearly two-thirds of all investment projects in renewable energy corresponded to European firms (mainly in wind and solar energy projects). In telecommunication, the participation was 43% and in the automotive sector it was 35%.32 Chinese investment in Latin America is changing, but still dominated (approximately 80%) by state-owned firms. Traditionally, Chinese investment was concentrated in the extractive sector. Currently, though, more than half of China’s investment is in the service sector, mostly in transport and infrastructure, but increasingly also in finance, electricity (generation and transmission), information and communication technology, and especially alternative energies. The automotive industry is another branch targeted by Chinese investors as a strategic sector in Latin America.33 Thus, in the future Chinese companies might compete with European companies in key economic sectors.
In contrast to its still-lightweight status as a foreign investor, China has become an important lender for development projects in Latin America. Between 2005 and 2016, Chinese banks lent more than USS140 billion to Latin American governments - the majority to Venezuela (USS62 billion) and Brazil (US$37 billion) - mostly for investments in infrastructure (52%) and energy (31%).34 In 2017, Chinese lending to Latin America reached the lowest level since 2008 (USS6.2 billion) slowly recovering in 2018 (USS7.7 billion) with two-thirds going to Venezuela with the option to repay the debt in oil. But China also ended a grace period on Venezuela's principal payments.35
Chinese banks lent more to Latin America than each of the three big development banks (World Bank, IDB and the CAF Andean Development Corporation - Development Bank of Latin America), and in some years even more than all of those development banks together. Emblematically, China was the planned host of the annual (and 60th anniversary) meeting of the IDB in Chengdu in March 2019; it had joined the bank in 2009 as a donor member. But the event was cancelled because the Chinese government refused to allow the new Venezuelan IDB board member appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaido to attend the meeting.
From a Latin American perspective, Chinese loans are not competing with, but rather complementing, loans from Western-dominated development banks or from Europe. Chinese loans are concentrated in specific sectors (such as mining, energy, construction, infrastructure and transport) and they are granted to countries with no access to other loans.36 Moreover, China puts no political conditionality on its loans. In general, Chinese loans to Latin America did not increase the public and publicly guaranteed debt as share of GDP but substituted other lenders.37
Europe, the European Union and its member countries, is still the most important donor in development cooperation in Latin America. But European countries are reducing their development aid due both to budgetary restrictions and to the fact that many Latin American countries are moving into the category of middle- income economies. In the funire, Europe’s withdrawal might open up new opportunities for China to increase its engagement in this area.38
4 China’s soft power
While currently it is contested whether authoritarian regimes exercise soft power or whether they use tools normally ascribed to soft power as part of their arsenal of “sharp power” with the objective of penetrating and perforating the political and information environments in the target countries,391 think the concept of soft power is more appropriate to describe the Chinese strategy. Additionally, Western soft power might be overrated: as one Latin American author argues, developing countries today want development, not values.40
It is normal for a great power with global reach not only to project its economic power but also to develop a soft power strategy to attract partners and to advance its interests in a given world region. In an op-ed a few days before the second China-CELAC Forum in 2018, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi wrote, “To implement the Belt and Road Initiative, we need not just hardware support in terms of connectivity, but more importantly the soft support of people-to-people friendship”.41 The Chinese strategy includes academic programmes, cultural exchange and media projection (e.g., with a growing presence of the Chinese news agency Xinhua in Latin America), but it also targets political leaders. The Chinese foreign minister highlights that his country has invited over 800 party leaders and 200 young leaders from LAC countries to visit China.42 In another declaration, he announced that China has plans to invite a further 600 political leaders from Latin America and facilitate 6,000 govermnental fellowships.43
While China is broadening its cultural and academic links with Latin America, it will be quite difficult to reach the level of personal, cultural and academic interactions that link Europe and Latin America (more than a third of LAC students studying abroad do it in an EU country).44 But it is remarkable that China is also advancing in these areas. There are now 43 Confucius Institutes in LAC (10 in Brazil, 5 in Mexico and 4 in Peru), and China is also broadening its knowledge about Latin America. Based on official information from the Chinese Ministry of Education, the Spanish language departments in Chinese universities increased from 12 in the year 2000 to 80 in 2015, and the number of registered students rose from around 500 to 15,000 in the same time period.45
5 Latin America and the Belt and Road Initiative
Latin America is on China’s radar, but it is definitively not its highest priority. While China is interested in advancing its economic and political interests in Latin America and in supporting Latin American countries when they take a more independent posture in international politics (especially in their relations with the United States), it is also interested in not provoking the United States in a region of high strategic interest. The 2017 US National Security Strategy claims that China seeks to pull the region into its orbit through state-led investment and loans46 and that China, together with Russia, is seeking to expand military linkages and arms sales across the region. The United States continuously monitor Chinese economic activities in Latin America.47
The new poster child of China, the BRI, is focused primarily on “Greater Eurasia”. If this initiative gains momentum, some experts fear that Latin America might again become “peripheralized”.48 By contrast, the European Union could become the “Western anchor” and a beneficiary of the BRI, which might reduce transport costs and create new direct rail-freight routes from Europe to China.49 But the BRI might also expand to Latin America. For President Xi Jinping, South America is “a natural extension of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”.50 Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela are prospective members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); they still have to complete the accession procedures and to contribute the initial capital to the institution. The Argentinian and Chilean presidents attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in May 2017; other governments (Bolivia, Venezuela) sent delegations or representatives (Brazil sent its Secretary of Strategic Affairs). During her visit, the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet proposed that the Chinese government build a trans-Pacific fibre-optic internet cable linking China and Chile. It would be the first of its kind between Asia and South America. In the opinion of the Chilean president, “the cable could be considered a part of the ‘One Belt, One Road Initiative’ and transform the Pacific Ocean into a bridge between our regions”.51
Quite importantly for the BRI, in June 2017 Panama severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favour of recognizing China, and in November Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela inaugurated Panama’s embassy in Beijing. During his visit, he signed various agreements and a joint declaration with his Chinese counterpart.52 In one of the memoranda of understanding, Panama declares its adherence to the Chinese Silk Road Initiative, because it will enhance Panama’s maritime role, based around the Panama Canal as “the great connection”. In his aforementioned op-ed a few days before the China-CELAC Forum, Chinese foreign minister explicitly encouraged LAC countries to sign Belt and Road cooperation agreements with China. The joint declaration of China and CELAC describes the BRI as an important opportunity to strengthen development cooperation; in a separate, special declaration, the foreign ministers of the CELAC countries emphasized their interest in participating in the initiative.
6 Latin American hopes and European worries
In 2017, the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, stated in an interview that for him Latin America is a priority, and that it would be an error to back down in the face of the activities and influence of China there. These words were meant for a Latin American audience. In reality, one has to acknowledge that for European foreign policy, Latin America has not been a priority. Therefore, the growing presence of China in Latin America is also not of major concern for European politicians. However, Latin America is also not a top priority for China compared with the latter’s interests elsewhere in Asia and its BRI. From this perspective, it might be easier for both Europe and China to defend their interests and to find a middle ground in Latin America.
From a Latin American perspective, many governments - especially on the Pacific side of the continent - have adapted their foreign policy to the new geo- economic realities with China as their main trade partner and reoriented then foreign policies to Asia and the Pacific Rim. Other governments still bet on Europe not only as a balancing power against the United States (as in the 1980s and 1990s) but also as a counterbalance to China’s growing economic clout in the region. During a talk at Sciences Po in Paris in October 2015, former Uruguayan President Jose “Pepe” Mujica articulated the fear that Latin America’s former dependence on, and subordination to, the United States will simply be substituted by a new dependence on, and subordination to, China. He asked Europe to open the door to becoming a counterweight vis-a-vis Asia's involvement with Latin America.53
For many years, on the European side Latin American fears have not reverberated, and China’s growing presence has not provoked major concerns. The first China-CELAC Forum in January 2015 was a turning point; there, the Chinese government announced its objective of investing more in Latin America, increasing trade, and opening new lines of credit. As a result, China’s presence in Latin America was a major topic during the last EU-CELAC Summit in Brussels in June 2015.
There are not many academic studies from a European perspective that examine China’s growing economic and political clout in Latin America - even fewer cover the repercussions of this relationship for Europe. Not even European think tanks have displayed much interest in the topic, exceptions in this regard being the Real Instituto Elcano in Madrid,54 the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and the EU-LAC Foundation,55 the Finnish Institute of International Affairs56 and Bruegel.57 Recently, two studies of note were published on the Latin American side, in which China's effects on relations between Latin America and Europe are analysed.58
From a Latin American perspective,59 Chinese investment and loans will complement but not replace European investments. The European Union and China will not only coexist in Latin America but might develop some kind of complementary relationship in the region, with China as an important lender and operator of large-scale projects, and the European Union as a trade partner and provider of technical cooperation. There is a clear Latin American interest in converting the cooperation with China and Europe into a win-win situation for the region.
Moreover, Chinese investments in regional infrastruchires and the country's growing economic clout in Latin America do not necessarily lead to a zero-sum game. Better infrastructure for trade within Latin America and with the rest of the world might also benefit European companies and create oppoxtunities for synergies between Chinese and European players. There are examples of cooperation between Chinese and European companies doing business in Latin America.
7 Competition, no cause for panic
While the third EU-CELAC Summit scheduled for October 2017 had to be postponed indefinitely due to the ideological polarization between Latin American governments, the second China-CELAC Forum took place as planned at the end of January 2018, where the Chinese foreign minister met many of his Latin American counterparts. This demonstrates the dominance of economic issues in the relations between China and Latin America; by contrast, in European-Latin American relations the common agenda is broader, including value-based issues such as the protection of democracy and human rights, and it is more difficult to exclude these topics from the agenda. But the cancellation of the 2019 axmual meeting of the IDB in China demonstrates that Chinese-Latin American relations are not immune to political-ideological conflicts within Latin America.
Compared to Europe, the Chinese leadership has a huge advantage: it can develop and implement a long-term strategy without the coordination problems posed by bringing together 28 countries (27 after Brexit) and without having to deal with the veto power of well-organized pressure groups such as the agrarian lobby in the European Union, which can still endanger the FTA between the European Union and Mercosur; even though European consumers might prefer Argentinian and Uruguayan beef over European beef.
With the crisis of CELAC, Europe lacks an interlocutor who can speak for LAC. In May 2019, the Council of the European Union reiterated "its willingness to resume Summit meetings with LAC countries in order to give a strategic steer to the partnership”.60 But it takes two to tango. The LAC governments must find a way to revitalize the dialogue with Europe, which might prove to be difficult without a solution to the Venezuelan crisis.
Europe must consider China’s presence in Latin America. But it should not overestimate the weight and influence of China. Symbolically most flights from China to Latin America still make a stopover in European airports. While China has surpassed Europe as a commercial partner in Latin America, Europe is still the principal investor in the region. However, Chinese investment in Latin America is increasing, and Chinese companies are changing their investment patterns. The Brexit will statistically diminish the EU percentage of trade and FDI in Latin
America,61 but not the economic clout of Europe, which alongside the European Union and the United Kingdom also includes the EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).62
In the fumre, there might be more competition between Chinese and European companies. Europe should compete with China in Latin America but also look fox- synergies; in addition, Europe should look to act in areas of strategic interest and based on its principles. In light of this view, it would not make sense for Europe to support and give a lifeline to corrupt and anti-democratic governments, as China does in Venezuela, or to create new dependencies by lending money in exchange for commodities.
For historical reasons, Europe’s links with Latin America are deeper and broader than China’s, especially in the social and cultural realms. Moreover, there is an increasing disenchantment with China in Latin America, and a fear that one economic dependency will simply be substituted for another. From this perspective, Europe is perceived as a counterweight. But Europe will not recover its former position in Latin America, and the result of the competition with China will also depend on Europe’s engagement. China is not displacing Europe in Latin America, but it is sometimes expanding into areas vacated or neglected by the European Union.
- 1 Oppenheimer (2016).
- 2 Gallagher (2016b).
- 3 Gomis (2017).
- 4 Gallagher (2016a).
- 5 Gomis (2017).
- 6 Novak and Namihas (2017:144-146).
- 7 Oppenheimer (2017).
- 8 Latinobarometro (2017).
- 9 European Coimnission and High Representative (2019:1).
- 10 Gonzalez (2018:17). China has also bilateral investment treaties with 12 LAC countries: Argentina, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. See Koleski and Blivas (2018:7).
- 11 Council of the European Union (2019).
- 12 Idem.
- 13 In 2016, China’s share in world exports was 16.8%, the EU’s share was 15.4%, and South America and Central America participated with 6.9%, see Garcia-Herrero et al. (2018:4).
- 14 European Commission DGT (2019).
- 15 EUROSTAT quoted in European Coimnission and High Representative (2019:1).
- 16 ECLAC (2018a:85). In contrast to trade in goods, with regard to trade in services Latin America is still more important as a trade partner of the European Union than China, see Idem.
- 17 EU Coimnission DGT (2017).
- 18 ECLAC (2018c:41).
- 19 Congressional Research Service (2019).
- 20 European Coimnission and High Representative (2019:2).
- 21 ECLAC (2012:52).
- 22 Garcia-Herrero et al. (2018).
- 23 ECLAC (2018a:81-82).
- 24 EUROSTAT (2017).
- 25 In 2017, Europe accounted for 18% of worldwide cross-border mergers and acquisitions of Latin American multinational companies (multilatinas) compared to a participation of 37% of North America, 37% of LAC and 8% of Other (including China) (ECLAC, 2018b:44).
- 26 EUROSTAT quoted in European Coimnission and High Representative (2019:1).
- 27 ECLAC (2018b: 168).
- 28 ECLAC (2018c:53).
- 29 Avenado et al. (2017).
- 30 ECLAC (2018b:39,169). From 2012 to 2017, European companies accounted for 66% (2018: 74%) of FDI inflows in Brazil, see ECLAC (2019:41).
- 31 ECLAC (2018b:41, 2019:33). Based on other sources China accounted for 16.3% of all mergers and acquisition of FDI in Latin America between 2014 and 2018, see Ray and Wang (2019).
- 32 ECLAC (2018b: 195).
- 33 Avenado et al. (2017); ECLAC (2018c).
- 34 ECLAC (2018c:22-23).
- 35 Myers and Gallagher (2019).
- 36 Novak and Namihas (2017).
- 37 Ray and Wang (2019).
- 38 Novak and Namihas (2017).
- 39 NED (2017).
- 40 Gomis (2017).
- 41 Wang Yi (2018).
- 42 Idem.
- 43 AFP (22 January 2018).
- 44 European Commission and High Representative (2019:1).
- 45 Cesarin and Tordini (2016).
- 46 See also the posture statement of Admiral Craig S. Faller, Coimnander of the United States Southern Coimnand, before the Senate Armed Services Committee (February 7, 2019, 6-7), where he declared “Russia and China are expanding their influence in the Western Hemisphere, often at the expense of U.S. interests.... China utilizes the same predatory, non-transparent foreign lending practices it has implemented around the world to exert political and economic leverage in certain countries. China has pledged at least US$150 billion in loans to countries in the hemisphere, and 16 nations now participate in the Belt and Road Initiative”.
- 47 See Congressional Research Sendee (2019); US Southern Command (2019); Koleski and Blivas (2018).
- 48 Abdenur and Gonzalez (2018).
- 49 Garcia-Herrero et al. (2017).
- 50 Telesur (May 27, 2017).
- 51 Telesur (May 13, 2017).
- 52 Hsiang (2018). On China-Panama relations, see Chapter 12 by Kellner and Wintgens in this book.
- 53 Mujica (2015).
- 54 Esteban (2015); Malamud (2017).
- 55 EU-LAC Foundation (2016).
- 56 Wigell (2016).
- 57 Garcia-Herrero et al. (2018).
- 58 Gomis (2017); Novak and Namihas (2017).
- 59 Gomis (2017).
- 60 Council of the European Union (2019).
- 61 There might be an indirect effect, in the case that the Brexit has a negative impact on economic growth in the European Union and the United Kingdom, which might diminish the demand for Latin American commodities, see Astroza (2019).
- 62 The EFTA countries have signed free trade agreements with Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru; and concluded in substance the negotiations on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the Mercosur. The United Kingdom is trying to sign bilateral “continuity trade agreements” with Latin American countries with the objective in rolling the EU agreements over into broadly equivalent UK agreements.
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-  China has an eye on Latin America At the end of Barack Obama’s tenure as US president, Miami Herald columnistAndres Oppenlieimer wrote, “So far, Xi has visited 10 Latin American countriessince he took office three years ago, almost as many as the 11 [visited] by President Barack Obama during his eight years in office”.1 After the election of DonaldTrump, Chinese President Xi Jinping lost no time capitalizing on the opportunityof the APEC Summit in Lima in November 2016 to present himself as a defender
-  2
-  4
-  China is advancing in Latin America,
-  but Europe is still there
-  In a joint communication titled “European Union, Latin America and the Carib
-  bean. Joining forces for a common future” the European Commission and the
-  High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy assert:
-  “China is rivalling the EU as the second trading partner of Latin America and,
-  more broadly, has become a partner of growing relevance for the region”.10
-  While China and the European Union are competing in Latin America, they
-  are also important trade partners.11 In 2018, the EU’s participation was 12.8%