China tightens grip in Latin America

The country’s third-largest contractor, in partnership with a local investor, is aiming to help slash the region’s infrastructure deficit.

China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) has formed a partnership with Union Group with the stated aim of helping to fill Latin America’s infrastructure gap of 6.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

CCCC is China’s third-largest construction business and the fourth-largest in the world. It has been involved in some of the most complex road, bridge, tunnel and port projects in the country.

Union Group is a private investment company formed in 2006 which specialises in natural resources and infrastructure investment in “high-growth, underinvested” Latin American countries such as Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. It has offices in London, Montevideo, Lima and Toronto.

The two firms plan to finance and develop ports, railways, highways and other infrastructure across Latin America. They have already formed a consortium to bid for a 30-year contract with the government of Uruguay to restore and maintain a 140-kilometre (km) railway track involving an initial investment of $150 million.

“China Communication Construction Company is an ideal partner for us as we step up our investment in infrastructure across the region,” said Juan Sartori, president and founder of Union Group, in a statement.

He added: “This investment is fundamental to economic growth in a number of Latin American economies – decades of underinvestment have held several countries back and these projects will have a multiplier effect on growth in the areas they affect.”

China recently overtook the US as Latin America's main export destination.