(Yicai Global) Nov. 27 -- China and Spain both want to maintain an open world economy and will accelerate business cooperation across multiple continents to combat emerging trade protectionism around the globe, according to a former deputy minister at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
The pair will work across multiple fields in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and other markets, Wei Jianguo told the China Going Global Think Tank.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Spain today until Nov. 29 to cement the pair's relationship ahead of the upcoming Group of 20 summit, he added, saying the trip will be his first to Europe since the Chinese Communist Party's National Congress in October, when Xi was confirmed for a second term as General Secretary.
Spain has invested heavily in Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, where there is a large demand for infrastructure, energy, communications and finance, Wei said, adding that Spain is aware of these requirements and is keen to enter those regions with support from China's experience in construction, funds and equipment.
Xi chose Spain as his first stop in Europe to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the relationship between China and Spain, which is this year, he added. There is also a promising outlook for a fast-developing partnership between the pair, Wei continued, saying the two nations have already achieved remarkable results in opening up the Belt and Road Initiative -- a 30- to 40-year plan proposed by Xi to build a trade and infrastructure route spanning most of the planet's continents via rail, road, pipes and waterways.
The two countries will draw up blueprints for bilateral development and sign off on deals in other markets, taking their cooperation worldwide and to a much deeper level, Wei said.
Spain's smooth cooperation with China in other markets is largely due to the Spanish government's support the Belt and Road initiative, which not all European Union nations agree with.
It was among the first founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and plays an active role in the lender's operations. Spain has also encouraged Chinese companies to spark up ties with Spanish firms, and the pair were the first two countries to set up a cooperative working group for third-party markets. The group encourages the nations' firms to team up in overseas markets and offers policy guidance for the companies.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who was sworn in on June 2 this year, encouraged Spain's Latin American companies to bridge the gap between Europe and South America and work together with Chinese companies when he visited Chile, Bolivia, Colombia and Costa Rica in August.
Spanish investors are popular in Latin America and from 2005 through 2017, made up 29 percent of foreign direct investment in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to data from the United Nations.
Companies from Spain, which are familiar with the region, have a rich experience and understanding of the local market -- including its culture and geography, and the country has welcomed China to leverage that expertise under the Belt and Road.
The two countries have moved forward with their joint efforts to invest in Latin America, with Madrid-based Telefonica using China's Huawei Technologies' wireless communication tech to conduct business in Brazil, Mexico and Chile.
Spain is also the most active EU country in terms of attracting Chinese investment.
The 1+16 summit between China and Central and Eastern European Countries is a major platform for cooperation between them and has generated interest from Spain in Western Europe. Spain is prepared to work with China to expand their cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe and the two expect to team up more in infrastructure, telecommunications, cars and renewable energy in future.
Given its close proximity, Spain has a close trade relationship with Africa. It is aware of the continent's geographical advantages and China's reputation for infrastructure and equipment development there, so the two countries are likely to work together more in Africa. Shandong province-based Electric Power Construction Group and Spain's SENER Engineering and Systems have already built a solar thermal power station in Morocco.
The pair have also moved into Arabic speaking countries along the route of the Belt and Road. China's state-backed Sinopec, Spain's Tecnicas Reunidas and a South Korean company formed a consortium to build the Azul refinery in Kuwait, and Chinese and Spanish companies worked together to build a solar thermal power plant in Dubai with financial support from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
Editor: James Boynton