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China, CELAC to map out cooperation plan over next five years: Xi

China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will put into writing a five-year cooperation plan, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday.

The plan -- together with the Beijing Declaration, and the Regulations on China-CELAC forum -- will be the major outcome of the first China-CELAC forum ministerial meeting, Xi said in his opening remarks.

The plan (2015-2019) will have specific measures for overall cooperation between China and Latin America, covering politics, security, trade, investment, finance, infrastructure, energy, resources, industry, agriculture, science and people-to-people exchange.

In the coming decade, China aims at 500 billion U.S dollars of bilateral trade with Latin American and the Caribbean and 250 billion U.S. dollars of direct investment into the region.

"China is willing to take the opportunity to build a new platform for cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean," said Xi.

China's economy will continue medium to high speed growth in the coming period and provide more opportunities for the world including Latin American and Caribbean states, Xi added.

The Beijing Declaration will summarize political consensus, set the direction for the forum and define cooperation guidelines. The regulations will set the rules of the forum, define three regular dialogues between China and CELAC, and provide a system to guarantee the implementation of political consensus and plans.

"Each CELAC country, both rich and poor, is equal under the framework of the forum," said Xi. "All sides should keep friendly consultation, hold common development and consider interests from all sides in order to ensure a firm political foundation for the cooperation."

Both China and CELAC should expedite the construction of the forum and map out a collaborative blueprint to achieve win-win results.

"One plus one is bigger than two," Xi said.

In the forum relations between China and CELAC will be flexible and practical, complementing each other's advantages, Xi added.

Xi welcomed any organizations or multilateral agencies from Latin America and the Caribbean region to join the cooperation.

"The China-CELAC forum will contribute to the world's prosperity, as well as China-CELAC development and South-South cooperation," Xi said.

Xi's opening remarks will guide the development of the China-CELAC forum and open a path of mutual benefit, said Xu Yicong, former Chinese ambassador to Cuba, Argentina and Ecuador.

13 Key Areas in Cooperation

During the two-day meeting, ministers and representatives from China and CELAC, will define 13 key areas for cooperation over the next five years, according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

"The five-year plan will bring unprecedented depth and width to bilateral cooperation," Wang said.

Wang called on both sides to decide quickly on specific projects in key areas to reap early harvests form the forum, proposing that China and CELAC share experience and build a cooperation model in line with the characteristics and needs of both sides, a new model of South-South cooperation.

China and CELAC should promote cooperation in industries, infrastructure, energy and resources, said Xu Shaoshi, minister for the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body. Xu suggested innovation in collaboration ranging from finance and construction to operations and management.

Historical Event

"The foundation of the forum is a historical event and the initiative to reinforce cooperation brought up by Xi last year is common expectation," Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro Moros said at the meeting.

Other foreign attendees include Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis, Ecuador President Rafael Correa Delgado, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie, ministerial representatives from CELAC member countries and members of international organizations.

Solis said that the China-CELAC forum expands new cooperative fields and construct a "communication bridge" for both sides.

Solis expressed his hope for more exchanges in investment, trade, interconnection, culture, education, science and technology and environmental protection to achieve sustainable development.

Correa said that China can help Latin America realize economic restructuring and social transformation through training talent, technology transfers and raising capital.

The 33-member CELAC was founded in December 2011 in Venezuela. It includes all South American countries and some Caribbean states plus Mexico.

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 08Jan15]

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