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China willing to accelerate FTA talks with Nicaragua: senior official

Global Times - 12 February 2023

China willing to accelerate FTA talks with Nicaragua: senior official
By Liu Yang

China is willing to accelerate comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Nicaragua, promoting bilateral development in deepening mutually beneficial cooperation, Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said on Saturday.

Wang’s remarks came as he met with Laureano Ortega, advisor on investment, trade and international cooperation at the Nicaraguan president’s office. The two countries resumed diplomatic ties more than one year ago.

The senior Chinese diplomat commended the progress made by China and Nicaragua, saying that under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, cooperation between China and Nicaragua has advanced rapidly, bringing the two countries to the forefront of China-Latin America relations.

The resumption of bilateral ties conforms to the trend of history, serves the interests of the two peoples and will open up broader prospects for the all-round development of bilateral relations, said Wang.

Ortega said that Nicaragua firmly supports China’s efforts to safeguard national security and territorial integrity, and opposes external interference, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Nicaragua supports the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative proposed by China, Ortega added.

Since the resumption of diplomatic ties between China and Nicaragua, the two sides have worked together to efficiently promote bilateral cooperation in various fields including trade and the economy, with fruitful and practical results.

In July 2022, China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada signed the early harvest arrangements for a bilateral FTA via video link. They also announced the beginning of FTA negotiations.

"Nicaragua will speed up FTA negotiations with China as the consumption power in the world’s second-largest economy will undoubtedly boost Nicaragua’s development. During the negotiations, cooperation in the fields of trade and investment, especially in infrastructure construction via the BRI, will expand," Zhou Zhiwei, an expert on Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In 2022, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral trade reached $759.6 million, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed.

Zhou noted that Nicaragua can further explore China’s huge market and expand exports of textiles and agricultural products to China.

In addition to Nicaragua, China has accelerated economic cooperation with other Latin American countries based on the principles of equality and reciprocity. China and Ecuador concluded bilateral FTA negotiations at the technical level, which will definitely inject a strong impetus to upgrade the quality of bilateral trade.

China’s trade structure with Latin America is largely complementary, Zhou noted. "On the one hand, bilateral cooperation is important for China’s energy and food security. On the other hand, if Latin American countries can seize the dividends and opportunities brought by the development of the Chinese economy and further expand the Chinese market, their GDP growth will be very significant."

More importantly, China’s ability to invest and its openness to international cooperation, with full respect for each other’s sovereignty, is a very desirable form of cooperation for Latin American countries, Zhou said.

In a recent exclusive interview with the Global Times, Ambassador of Ecuador to China Carlos Larrea said that China does not impose any conditions on countries with which it cooperates, and this is the cornerstone of a relationship of great friendship, respect and trust.

 source: Global Times