H.E. Mr. Heraldo Muñoz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Chile;
H.E. Mr. Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China;
H.E. Ambassador Victor Manuel Valle, President Pro-Tempore of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Distinguished Foreign Ministers and Representatives:
I would like to convey my gratitude to Chile, particularly to Santiago de Chile, for its warm welcome.
A few days ahead of the commemoration of the 165th anniversary of the birth of our National Hero Jose Marti this January 28, Cuba takes pride in being part of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Its foundation crystallized the message of independence and unity of the region contained in Martí’s essay entitled “Our America”.
Cuba has the privilege of being the first Latin American country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. The CELAC-China Forum was created by virtue of the agreements adopted at the Second CELAC Summit held in Havana.
Three years ago our countries met in Beijing and successfully held the First China-CELAC Ministerial Forum. This mechanism has proved to be effective in strengthening relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean; it has facilitated a systematic dialogue and the advancement of ambitious triangular cooperation projects, human resources training, trade, investments and financial relations, with a strong component of science, technology and innovation. The Forum has been further enriched thanks to the political, economic and social diversity of the Parties involved.
Today, China and Latin America and the Caribbean see each other as sources of opportunities. China has become the second trading partner of the region; the third biggest source of investments and the main destination of the exports of goods from several Latin American countries.
Under the CELAC-China Cooperation Plan, both Parties expect to increase direct and reciprocal trade and investments up to 500 billion USD and 250 billion USD respectively by the year 2025.
We appreciate the importance of further strengthening cooperation and friendship bonds in the context of the Forum, based on the opportunities it offers to face the challenges resulting from a complex global situation. China and Latin America and the Caribbean, as countries of the South, complement each other and share common interests.
In this context, Cuba emphasizes the importance of holding a Summit of Heads of State of Latin America and the Caribbean and China.
Together we can work to pursue our economic growth, the increase and diversification of our exports, the industrialization of our natural and agricultural resources, the elimination of social inequalities, a better trade balance and the financial and investments resources necessary to meet the targets and goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The Chinese “One Belt and One Road Initiative” offers new opportunities for cooperation between both Parties. Cuba is sympathetic to and recognizes the possibilities offered by this lofty initiative, which is as comprehensive as inclusive. Some steps have already been taken associated to it and possibilities open up for new projects.
The close friendship that exists between Cuba and China is neither juncture-wise nor based on ephemeral conveniences. Bilateral cooperation, based on equality and mutual benefit, has included projects for the development and use of renewable energies as well as agreements in the biotech sector and the training of more than 3 000 Chinese students in different specialties in Cuba during the last decade, which was conceived not only thinking about our bilateral relations, but also in the relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Enhancing our mutual knowledge is vital for the future development of this Forum. Latin American and Caribbean countries can benefit from China’s experience in social and economic development. China could also benefit from the experiences and comparative advantages of our region.
We emphasize the need for all participants to see their interests and aspirations reflected in this Forum. In this regard, we should give to the Caribbean countries, the Small Island Developing States which are affected by extreme weather events that are increasingly frequent and devastating, like those which particularly affected Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, the attention they deserve. The realities and specific development needs of our Caribbean sister nations are neglected by other cooperation bodies. Special mention should be made of the solidarity support required by Haiti.
We strongly believe that China and Latin America and the Caribbean, united under CELAC, can expand their relations through this Forum, based on equality, mutual benefit and respect for the precepts enshrined in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, which was signed in Havana in January, 2014.
Cuba upholds its strong commitment with the Latin American and Caribbean unity and integration in the pursuance of the development and the wellbeing of our peoples. In that endeavor, we will continue to promote relations with China, whose progress we positively welcome and perceive as a factor of stability, balance and opportunities for the world, particularly for Latin American and the Caribbean. We will actively participate in this Forum, which we believe is of the utmost importance.