University of Southern California

The New Economic Frontier
Marshall Hosts Global Conference on China’s Growing Influence in Latin America
September 23, 2011 • by News at Marshall

While the world watches the relationship between the U.S. and China unfold, China has turned its attention to the emerging nations of Latin America. In a conference held at the USC Marshall School of Business on September 16, "China in Latin America: The New Economic Frontier", global experts from China, Latin America and the U.S. met to discuss the role of Latin America in China’s development, and what this connection ultimately means for the U.S.

China’s trade with Latin America has grown faster than with any other region according to panel speaker Shuoguo Yang, deputy director of Latin American studies at the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR). In 2010, bilateral trade between China and Latin America surpassed $180 billion, an increase of 50.2% compared to 2009. Yang noted that this surge in investment results from China’s need for natural resources and commodities to support its manufacturing-driven economy. A telling anecdote of the economic development between Latin America and China came from USC Marshall Professor Baizhu Chen. According to Chen, Brazil exports hundreds of millions of chicken feet to China, a surprisingly lucrative export commodity that reached $180 million in 2007 in the U.S. Brazil recently became the largest exporter, toppling previous leader, the U.S.

"Today China is rising, and Latin America is rising. It is a golden time to operate and a golden time for the United States," said Peng Yuan, assistant president of CICIR. Yuan led the discussion of the opening panel, elaborating on China’s long-term economic policies in the region. He emphasized that future cooperation among these three actors is in the interest of all in order to strengthen trade relations.

Several experts emphasized that volatile global markets have played a role in strengthening Sino-Latin American relations. "This increased trade in the last five to 10 years has contributed to Latin American countries being resilient to the 2008 financial crisis," said Luis Enrique Berrizbeitia, executive vice president of CAF Development Bank of Latin America. While Europe and North America have scaled back investment in the region, China has increased its trade efforts.

The conference attracted more than 50 attendees from diverse fields of business, academia and research, and was co-hosted by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of the Americas.

The conference concluded on a candid note, when an attendee asked if China actually operates with a “unified view” or whether there is opposition within the government.

"That’s the biggest challenge for Chinese foreign policy today, we have spent maybe 20 years to know American foreign policy," responded Yuan, "But now, I’m afraid that from today on, it’s time for you to learn Chinese foreign policy."

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.