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China and Latin America:
South-South Investment and Sustainable Development

China’s presence grows ever larger in Latin America. China is now the largest trading partner and creditor of several Latin American countries and the regions’ second largest investor, behind only the United States.

What are the implications of the surge in Chinese trade and finance to Latin America? In The New Banks in Town: Chinese Finance in Latin America, GDAE documented that since 2005, China has provided approximately $86 billion in loan commitments to Latin American countries – the majority of which were loans in exchange for oil. In 2010, China offered more loans to Latin America than the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States combined. Is China displacing the competition with “low-ball” financing? Will China’s financing terms favor or hurt sustainable development in the region?

Building on Kevin P. Gallagher’s and Roberto Porzecanski’s book, The Dragon in the Room: China and the Future of Latin American Industrialization, GDAE is collaborating with Boston University on research to explore the implications of China’s rising prominence in Latin America. With ongoing original research, in collaboration with a Working Group of researchers from Latin America, we will regularly update the data on financing and investment and assess the social, economic, and environmental impacts of Chinese investment and trade. As Brazil and India expand their own outward development financing and foreign investment, GDAE will use the Chinese experience to draw lessons for sustainable South-South trade and investment.

Key Resources

China in Latin America: Environmental and Developmental Dimensions This working group project brings together a unique group of natural and social scientists from across the Americas to conduct policy-oriented research on the environment and developmental impacts of Chinese trade and investment in Latin America.

New Banks In Town by Gallagher Irwin and KoleskiThe New Banks in Town: Chinese Finance in Latin America, by Kevin P. Gallagher, Amos Irwin, and Katherine Koleski, Inter-American Dialogue Report, February 2012
A January 2013 update is available in Spanish.
A May 2013 update is available in Portuguese.


Dragon in the RoomThe Dragon in the Room: China and the Future of Latin American Industrialization, by Kevin P. Gallagher and Roberto Porzecanski, Stanford University Press, 2010

China-Latin America Financial DatabaseThe China-Latin America Finance Database stems from an ongoing collaborative project between GDAE, Boston University's Global Economic Governance Initiative, and the Inter-American Dialogue. The interactive database, which will be updated annually, is the most up-to-date source of information on Chinese lending activity in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Articles and Reports:

The Limits of China’s Globalization Strategy, Kevin P. Gallagher, The Globalist, January 22, 2014

China-Latin America Economic Bulletin: 2013 Edition, Rebecca Ray and Kevin P. Gallagher, Working Group on Development and Environment in the Americas, January 2014 (Also available in Spanish)

NAFTA’s Uninvited Guest: China and the Disintegration of North American Trade, Enrique Dussel Peters and Kevin P. Gallagher, Revista CEPAL 110, August 2013. (Also available in Spanish)

Profiting from Precaution: How China’s Policy Banks Can Enhance Social and Environmental Standards, Kevin P. Gallagher, Paulson Institute Policy Memorandum, July 9, 2013

Chinese Mining in Latin America A Comparative Perspective, Amos Irwin & Kevin P. Gallagher, The Journal of Environment Development, June 2013

China’s Economic Effects on the U.S.-Mexico Trade Relationship: Towards a New Triangular Relationship?, Kevin P. Gallagher and Enrique Dussel Peters, China and the New Triangular Relationships in the Americas. China and the Future of US-Mexico Relations, May 2013

Os Novos Bancos em Cena: Financiamentos Chineses na América Latina, Kevin P. Gallagher, Amos Irwin, e Katherine Koleski, Inter-American Dialogue Report, updated May 2013

¿Un mejor trato? Análisis comparativo de los préstamos chinos en América Latina, Kevin P. Gallagher, Amos Irwin, y Katherine Koleski, Centro de Estudios China-México de la Facultad de Economía de la UNAM, Updated January 2013

Capitalizing on the China Cycle: Time is Running out For Latin America, Kevin P. Gallagher, Inter-American Dialogue Policy Brief, December 2012

Chinese Investment and Sustainable Development in Peru: A Comparative Analysis, Amos Irwin and Kevin P. Gallagher, Working Group Discussion Paper DP34, December 2012

Las finanzas chinas en Latinoamérica: ¿un financiamiento más verde?, Kevin P. Gallagher Katherine Koleski Amos Irwin, Apuntes Vol. XXXIX, N° 71, November 2012

Atravesando el océano pensando en los TBI: arbitraje inversionista-Estado en los tratados bilaterales de inversión chinos, Amos Irwin, Apuntes Vol. XXXIX, N° 71, November 2012

The New Banks in Town: Chinese Finance in Latin America, Kevin P. Gallagher, Amos Irwin, and Katherine Koleski, Inter-American Dialogue Report, February 2012

China Engages Latin America: Tracing the Trajectory by Adrian H. Hearn and José Luis León-Manríquez, Kevin P. Gallagher, Americas Quarterly, November 2011

Taking the China Challenge: China and the Future of Latin American Economic Development, Kevin P. Gallagher, Latin America 2060: Consolidation or Crisis?, Pardee Center Task Force Report, September 2011

China Discovers Latin America, Kevin P. Gallagher, Berkeley Review, University of California, Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies, Fall/Winter 2011

Latin America’s China Challenge, Kevin P. Gallagher, Policy Innovations, Carnegie Council, January 20, 2011

"Taking the China Challenge: China and the Future of Latin American Economic Development", Kevin P. Gallagher, Latin American Trade Network, Serie Brief No. 58, November 2010

"Latin America must see China as a trade threat, as well as a partner," by Kevin Gallagher, Financial Times, November 11, 2010

"China and the Future of Latin American Industrialization," by Kevin P. Gallagher, Issues in Brief, No. 18, The Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, October 2010

"China crashes Cafta's party" Central American nations have long been trying to hook their economies to the US market, but they can't compete with China," by Kevin P. Gallagher, The Guardian, June 5, 2010

"What's Left for Latin America to do with China?" by Kevin Gallagher, NACLA Report on the Americas, May/June 2010

"China and the Latin America Commodities Boom: A Critical Assessment," by Kevin P. Gallagher and Roberto Porzecanski, Political Economy Research Institute, Working Paper Number 192, February, 2009

“Policies for Industrial Learning in China and Mexico,” Kevin P. Gallagher and Mehdi Shafaeddin, RIS Discussion Paper #150, February 2009

"Taking Away the Ladder: China and the Competitiveness of Mexican Exports," by Kevin P. Gallagher and Roberto Porzecanski, Americas Program Policy Brief, September 3, 2008

China Matters: A Report on China’s Economic Impact in Latin America, Kevin P. Gallagher and Roberto Porzecanski, Latin American Research Review (2008). (NOTICE: Author Posting. © Latin American Research Review. This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.)

The Dynamism of Mexican Exports: Lost in (Chinese) Translation?” by Kevin P.Gallagher, Juan Carlos Moreno-Brid, and Roberto Porzecanski, World Development 36, 8, August 2008, 1365-1380. (NOTICE: Author Posting. © World Development. This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.)

"Climbing Up the Technology Ladder? High-Technology Exports in China and Latin America," by Kevin P. Gallagher and Roberto Porzecanski, Center for Latin American Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Paper No. 20, January 2008

What a Difference a Few Years Makes: China and the Competitiveness of Mexican Exports by Kevin P. Gallagher and Roberto Porzecanski, Oxford Development Studies 35:2 (2007). (NOTICE: Author Posting. © Oxford Development Studies. This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.)

The Global Development and Environment Institute’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program examines the economic, social and environmental impacts of economic integration in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on the WTO and NAFTA's lessons for trade and development policy. The goal of the program is to identify policies and international agreements that foster sustainable development.

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