Uruguay pledged efforts to seek a stronger relationship with Beijing since “China is an essential factor in the international development of Uruguay”, said Vice-President Danilo Astori following an hour long meeting in Beijing with his counterpart Wu Bangguo, president of the National Assembly.
Despite the long distance between the two countries, Chinese and Uruguayans share good feelings for each other said Wu Bangguo adding that China-Uruguay diplomatic relations since established in 1988, “have developed smoothly” with substantial benefits for both countries.
Astori spent a week in China with a numerous delegation that included several ministers, top officials and representatives from the private sector, industry, finance and other services.
As developing countries, both China and Uruguay enjoy a good momentum and face “promising prospects for cooperation in trade and economy, science and technology, culture, education, among others” said Wu.
Bilateral trade reached 867 million US dollars in the first half of this year, up 61.7% over the same period last year, according to Chinese Customs.
Looking to the future, Wu said China would like to deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation with Uruguay and usher in a new era of bilateral ties. The top Chinese official called for the legislative branches to increase exchanges, strengthen communications and play a bigger role in boosting bilateral ties.
Earlier in the week Astori gave a conference in Shanghai on Uruguay’s business and investment opportunities recalling that China is Uruguay’s second trading partner and several manufacturing and service companies were already making business in the country.
“Uruguay is a very young country compared to China’s millenary history, but we want to learn from you about cultural and economic development”, said Astori.
“We are convinced that these visits at government level are very important but even more the direct contact between entrepreneurs from both countries, thus facilitating the chances of increasing trade, business and investments”.
Astori pointed out that 2009 was evidence of the strength and solidity of the Uruguayan economy, which in spite of the global downfall expanded 3%, and Uruguay is now rated as the country with the best business atmosphere in Latin America and second best in economic openness and freedom.
The Uruguayan Vice-president anticipated that exports this year would read 10 billion US dollars with a growing preponderance of services over the long established commodities. Sales to China in 2009 totalled 600 million USD and in the first half of this year has already reached 545 million USD, he said.
“This formidable increase was possible because of the logistics capacity of Uruguay and that is why for this government the priority is infrastructure, ports, roads, energy, and particularly electricity plays a central role”, underlined Astori.
Uruguay could be “a strange distant country for the Chinese people, and most difficult to pronounce, but is no stranger to the heart of China” said Professor Zhou Hanmin, vice director of the Executive Committee of Expo 2010 Shanghai China.
“And this is so not only for having supported China’s incorporation to the World Trade Organization in 2001 but also because of the extraordinary performance of the Uruguayan national team in the recent World Cup played in South Africa”, added Zhou Hanmin who is also Standing Committee member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Finally he pointed out to the fact that China is the world’s second largest economy, the first in exports, the second in receiving direct foreign investment and the fifth economy in overseas investments.
“However we are extremely weak because we have an outdated State, with a GDP per capita that positions us 105 in world ranking”, admitted Zhou Hanmin.
Since establishing full diplomatic relations in 1988, all Uruguayan incoming presidents have made official visits to China, usually during the first year in office.