By Marco Aquino and Adam Jourdan

CHANCAY, Peru (Reuters) – In September, a bunch of Brazilian farmers and officers arrived within the Peruvian fishing city of Chancay. The draw: a brand new Chinese language mega port rising on the Pacific coast, promising to turbo cost South America’s commerce ties with China.

The $3.5 billion deep water port, set to begin operations late this yr, will present China with a direct gateway to the resource-rich area. Over the past ten years, Beijing has unseated america as the biggest commerce accomplice for South America, devouring its soy, corn and copper.

The port, majority-owned by Chinese language state-owned agency Cosco Delivery, would be the first managed by China in South America. It should capable of accommodate the biggest cargo ships, which might head on to Asia, reducing the journey time by two weeks for some exporters.

Beijing and Lima hope Chancay will turn out to be a regional hub, each for copper exports from the Andean nation in addition to soy from western Brazil, which presently travels by means of the Panama Canal or skirts the Atlantic earlier than steaming to China.

“The Chancay mega port goals to show Peru right into a strategic business and port hub between South America and Asia,” Peru’s commerce minister Juan Mathews Salazar instructed Reuters.

A part of China’s decade-old ‘Belt and Street’ drive, the brand new port embodies the problem going through america and Europe as they appear to counter Beijing’s rising affect in Latin America. China’s commerce muscle has helped it win allies and achieve leverage in political boards, finance and expertise.

Full development began in 2018 at Chancay, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Lima. Employees at the moment are laying hundreds of piles and breakwaters; work indicators are written in white-on-red Chinese language characters.

The primary section of Chancay is about be accomplished in November 2024. Chinese language President Xi Jinping, anticipated in Peru for an Asia-Pacific Financial Cooperation (APEC) summit that month, might inaugurate the port, a diplomatic supply in Lima stated.

China’s embassy in Lima didn’t reply to Reuters queries.

“It is a part of China’s new Silk Street,” stated Mario de las Casas, company affairs supervisor for Cosco Delivery, which holds a 60% stake within the port. The rest is managed by native miner Volcan, by which Glencore owns a stake.

Jose Adriano da Silva, a farming entrepreneur from Brazil’s western Acre state who visited the port, stated the venture would speed up regional improvement. He stated talks between Peruvian and Brazilian officers have been underway to resolve overland transport challenges.

Peru’s authorities is planning an unique financial zone close to the port and Cosco desires to construct an industrial hub close to Chancay to course of uncooked supplies that would embrace grains and meat from Brazil earlier than delivery them to Asia.

Brazil’s ambassador in Peru, Clemente Baena Soares, stated there have been plans for conferences between officers early this yr to hunt to resolve logistical, sanitary and bureaucratic hurdles on the border so Brazilian vans can extra simply attain the port.

“It is a chance for grain and meat manufacturing – particularly from Rondonia, Acre, Mato Grosso and Amazonas – to go to Asia by means of the port of Chancay,” stated Soares, who additionally visited Chancay in September, naming 4 states in western Brazil.

“(Brazilian companies) are delighted with the potential of not utilizing the Panama Canal to take their items to Asia.”

He added there would should be funding in an present street generally known as the Interoceanic Freeway – which runs from additional south in Peru throughout the Andes to Brazil – to enhance transport routes. A protracted-discussed rail hyperlink remained within the examine section, he stated.


China overtook america on commerce in South and Central America below former President Donald Trump, regardless of his administration warning the area concerning the risks of getting too near Beijing. Underneath President Joe Biden the hole has widened regardless of makes an attempt to reverse it.

U.S. officers at the moment are taking a special tack, arguing that america gives the area different issues past commerce, together with funding in high-tech industries.

“I feel utilizing the metric of commerce to guage the affect of China is just not an correct manner,” Juan Gonzalez, a White Home adviser and the Nationwide Safety Council’s Western Hemisphere senior director, instructed Reuters in Buenos Aires.

“We’re assured in our capability to compete with China,” he added, urging regional governments to make sure there have been no “political strings hooked up” to commerce with Beijing.

Beijing says its commerce and funding in Latin America is a win-win for each side. Some 150 nations have signed on to the Belt and Street with China, together with 22 in Latin America.

The change over ten years is stark.

A decade in the past, Peru, the world’s no. 2 copper producer, traded barely extra with america than China. Now, China has a greater than $10 billion lead in bilateral commerce, the newest annual knowledge present.

That pattern is enjoying out across the area.

Reuters interviewed two dozen officers, enterprise leaders and commerce specialists, together with an evaluation of ten years of commerce knowledge, revealing how China’s infrastructure spending is cementing its function as the important thing commerce and funding accomplice for South America, defying an financial slowdown at house and U.S. warnings about debt lure diplomacy.

A part of the shift is pragmatic. Quick-growing China wants the copper and lithium from South America’s Andes, together with the corn and soy from the plains of Argentina and Brazil.

However its widening commerce lead – some $100 billion round South America in the newest annual knowledge – brings additional clout.

Beijing has within the final yr upgraded ties with Uruguay and Colombia to “strategic partnerships” – the latter a U.S. ally.

Argentina’s President Javier Milei, as soon as extremely crucial of China, has softened his stance since taking workplace final month, reflecting Beijing’s significance to the crisis-hit financial system.

It’s the prime purchaser of Argentina’s soy and beef and has an $18 billion forex swap line with the nation – which Argentina’s cash-strapped authorities has tapped to pay its debt, together with with the Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF).

“The very last thing our expensive Argentine mates want in these difficult instances is to lose the help of an vital accomplice like China,” the Chinese language ambassador in Colombia wrote on social media platform X following Milei’s inauguration.


Peru’s commerce with China doubled within the final decade to $33 billion in 2022, pushed by rising copper exports, whilst its commerce flatlined with america. China has invested some $24 billion in Peruvian mines, the ability grid, transportation and hydro-electric energy technology over the identical interval.

Exports to China grew 9.3% within the first eleven months of final yr, authorities knowledge present, quicker than the 5.3% development of exports to america. Peru has a $9.4 billion commerce surplus with China and a $1.3 billion deficit america.

Peru’s President Dina Boluarte met China’s Xi in November on the Asia-Pacific Financial Cooperation (APEC) discussion board in San Francisco. They mentioned the Chancay port, which Boluarte stated was a “vital increase to free commerce and new Chinese language investments.”

That got here after an ungainly on-the-move parlay in Washington with Biden, which was not given full bilateral assembly standing.

“China is profiting from our absence and that is an actual downside,” stated Eric Farnsworth, a former White Home adviser and State Division official, who’s now a Latin America skilled on the Council of the Americas and Americas Society.

He stated the port bolstered China’s highly effective place in Peru and created a “level of leverage” within the area.

Two regional diplomats stated it additionally mirrored a extra muscular and impressive China, typically backed by deep pockets: a far cry from a wave of Chinese language immigration to Peru two centuries in the past when migrants got here as cotton staff or to arrange ‘chifas’ – Chinese language meals shops.

“Now enterprise executives or bankers come, with massive tasks tucked below their belts,” stated Juan Carlos Capuñay, Peru’s former ambassador to China.


China hasn’t had issues all its personal manner. Its Belt and Street has confronted pushback in Asia and Europe – Italy just lately pulled out of the initiative – whereas dangerous money owed owed to China have ballooned. In Latin America, tasks from Argentina to Venezuela have confronted hold-ups.

Diplomats and commerce specialists additionally cautioned that the Chancay port would solely achieve success if regional infrastructure together with roads and railways improved to allow items to get there, together with grains from Brazil.

At the moment, the Interocean Freeway – a little-used street hall of some 2,600 kilometers (1,616 miles) in 5 sections, constructed greater than a decade in the past – hyperlinks the Pacific Coast within the south of Peru to Brazil’s state of Acre.

“The problem as we speak is a scarcity of regional connections, which could be very advanced for the success of the venture,” stated Fernando Reyes Matta, former Chilean ambassador to China.

Nonetheless, a number of of the individuals stated China’s rise in South America was solidifying regardless of these headwinds, with the area determined for financing and overseas forex.

A senior European diplomat primarily based in South America stated the large hole in infrastructure funding within the area made it laborious for america to “sturdy arm” native governments to show down Chinese language cash.

In the meantime, international curiosity had grown in South America’s assets comparable to lithium, copper and grains.

“Latin America has turn out to be a brand new battle floor for these minerals between america, Europe and China,” he stated.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Adam Jourdan; Extra reporting by Lucinda Elliott in Montevideo, Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Adriana Barrera in México, Natalia Ramos in Santiago, Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas in Caracas, Candelaria Grimberg in Buenos Aires, Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Alvaro Murillo in San Jose, Nelson Rentería in San Salvador and Ana Mano in Sao Paulo; Modifying by Daniel Flynn)

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