Chinese influence and expansion has reached Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the past 10 years, the Chinese government has aggressively pursued a trade policy emphasizing a growth in Chinese manufactured imports and exports of Latin American raw materials. China’s focus is on exporting raw materials; such as soybeans, metals, and oil in exchange for a vast amount of Chinese manufactured goods. This aggressive push into the Latin American trade theater has provided exponential growth in the region. However, this Chinese economic model is slowly readjusting the region back to its pre-1970’s state of over-dependence on commodity exports. In addition to becoming a major trade partner in the region, China has become a financial investor in the nations so heavily that many fear China will soon surpass the United States as the major player in the region.
China is rapidly increasing its involvement in the region. Over the past few years, Chinese trade has increased around 30% each year to meet their demand/need for raw materials. In 2010, “China’s share of the regions trade has reached 20%... up from just 1% in 1995.” (Stier 259) This increase has made China the top trade partner for Brazil, Argentina, and Chile and a leading partner in many other Latin American and Caribbean nations. The increase in trade has had a major impact on Latin American economics though as between 2002 and 2010, the number of Latin American people living in poverty dropped from 44% of the population to only 32%.
China’s involvement in Latin America expands further than being involved in trade as they have made a move into becoming a major financial leader and regional investor in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2011 alone, Chinese banks and investment totaled $73 billion in Latin America. These investments include building highways and bridges, opening retail stores and Chinese owned grocery markets, and the building of Confucian schools to spread Mandarin and Chinese culture into Latin America. Relatively, as China’s monetary involvement has increased, so has the number of Chinese immigrants in Latin America. This influx of Chinese activity, however, threatens to disrupt the economic systems of Latin America by moving those countries back to their dependence of commodity exports.
The trade involving China and Latin America is moving in a way that threatens the livelihood of manufactured goods made in Latin America. The Chinese are overwhelmingly only buying raw materials from the region and are mainly shipping Chinese manufactured goods, which are produced at a lower cost by Chinese manufacturers. These businesses, especially Latin American textiles and low-level technology, are being dwindled into near non-existence by the wave of cheaper Chinese made goods, leading to the inability of Latin American businesses to provide Latin American made goods into their own region, much less other parts of the world. Latin American has become a major market for...