Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez together with several ministers and a delegation of 70 businessmen left Friday for an official state visit to China. The party arrives Saturday in Beijing but the official program begins Monday when President Vazquez will be received by this Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.
The Uruguayan leader is also scheduled to visit the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade where he will be meeting with acting president Dong Songgen.
China is a significant trade partner of Uruguay and the main buyer of the country’s wool clip plus other agriculture commodities. The Vazquez administration has seen overall exports drop 20% last February, after having lost 5.3% in January, 5.8% in December and 8.1% in November, and is anxious to retain markets.
At the Council for International Trade promotion, Economy minister Alvaro Garcia will be making a presentation about Uruguay’s commerce and investment opportunities plus inviting Chinese oil companies to participate in the Uruguay Round 2009, next December when Uruguayan authorities will be launching the bidding process for oil and gas exploration and production in the River Plate.
The head of the Uruguayan ports authority Fernando Puntigliano is also scheduled to meet with Chinese companies interested in investing in port infrastructure and fishing industry facilities.
President Vazquez is expected to hold meetings with the Standing Committee from the National Assembly and Prime Minister Wen Jibao.
Since the early eighties when Uruguay and Beijing established diplomatic relations, trade and political links with Beijing have been very close. Uruguay was one of the few countries in the world not to condemn Beijing for the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings and has abstained from any involvement in human rights issues affecting China.
China’s sustained three decade growth and double digit expansion during the last ten years have been crucial for the economic upturn of Latinamerica, a net supplier of commodities and minerals for the avid Chinese market. This has had a huge impact on commodity prices with windfall earnings for the region.