Institute study highlights China’s expanding presence in Latin America’s energy sector

Oct 6, 2021 | General

Contributor: Oleg Elkov / Alamy Stock Photo

On February 11, the Institute of the Americas formally launched our report, “China Stakes Its Claim in Latin American Energy: What It Means for the Region, the U.S. and Beijing”. The launch event and webinar was co-hosted by University of California TV (UCTV) and is now being rebroadcast on their network. Partial funding for the report and launch event was provided by Alumbra Innovations Foundation.

At the launch event, Cecilia Aguillon, Energy Transition Initiative Director and Jeremy M. Martin, Vice President, Energy & Sustainability presented key report findings and highlights. They detailed the many facets as to how and where China is broadening its presence in Latin America’s energy and strategic minerals sectors, posing challenges to the regional countries themselves as well as to the United States. A robust discussion panel followed the presentation of the report and featured Matt Ferchen, Head of Global China Research at Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) and Michael Davidson, Assistant Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) at UCSD.

China has clearly, as our report title notes, staked a claim in LAC’s energy sector. In 2020, Chinese M&A deals in LAC energy reached $7.7 billion, according to Bloomberg, or 25% of Chinese acquisitions worldwide. Between 2000-2019, China made investments and loans of more than $58 billion in regional energy sectors, with most going to oil and natural gas projects, followed by renewable energy.

With the contours of the global energy transition and increased attention on reducing emissions and climate action spurring huge growth in renewable energy, China has flexed its muscles in that segment of the global energy sector and in LAC.

China’s growing presence in Latin America presents challenges to U.S.-LAC relations, which the new Biden administration must address. A new administration together with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress provides an opportune moment to reset. The new administration has an opportunity to counter China and strengthen US-Latin America relations by encouraging private investment, particularly in mining, clean energy and infrastructure projects and centered on the climate imperative. To read the full report,

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