President Luis Lacalle Pou of Uruguay and Xi Jinping of China Wednesday announced after meeting in Beijing that new steps toward a bilateral free trade deal had been agreed upon.
The strategic partnership between China and Uruguay was elevated, Xi said as both leaders spoke of a comprehensive strategic partnership after a two-hour gathering. Xi also pointed out that the objective was to welcome more Uruguayan agricultural and livestock products of high quality and high value-added products in the Chinese market.
Henceforth, bilateral relations will be expanded from trade to science and technology, Xi also explained while promising Chinese companies would invest in Uruguay thanks to its favorable business environment.
Xi also said that the two sides should promote cultural and sports exchanges, among others, and create more convenient conditions for people to travel between the two countries. He added that China was willing to provide more scholarships to students from Uruguay.
China and Uruguay have always adhered to mutual respect, equal treatment, and cooperation in their 35 years of relations, Xi said, adding that he is willing to continue working with Lacalle Pou to continue carrying forward friendly relations between the two countries.
Xi stressed that both China and Uruguay are supporters of free trade between the two countries and will continue to promote and maintain communication to move forward at an accelerated pace, it went on.
Both nations agreed to continue making efforts to accelerate the construction of a Free Trade Association (FTA), the Uruguayan presidency said in a statement.
Marking the 35th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, Lacalle Pou presented Xi with a gift of two bulls: one Hereford and one Angus, the main breeds raised on Uruguayan farms.
The Uruguayan leader also underlined the importance of seeking progress to promote negotiations for a free trade agreement and firmly defend multilateralism promoting peace and stability.
With China focused on deepening its ties with Latin America as part of its global New Silk Road strategy, the Uruguayan government positively” finalized in July 2022 the feasibility studies for an FTA with Beijing despite Mercosur rules calling for any negotiation with third countries to be endorsed by the other bloc members (Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay). The Uruguayan initiative stirred the regional alliance. Uruguay did not sign a joint declaration at the last Mercosur summit, held last July in Argentina.
While Brazil has strengthened its ties with China under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Argentina's President-elect Javier Milei pledged to cut trade relations. Paraguay maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which China regards as a rogue province.