Chinese investors go big in Latin American energy

Sep 26, 2017

Some of China’s biggest power companies are starting to look beyond acquisitions to greenfield projects in the region

Thierry Ogier

Keywords: infrastructure energy power China Three Gorges CTG State Grid CPFL Cesp Eletrobras

Rising infrastructure investments have confirmed China’s interest in forging links with Latin America beyond buying commodities, and energy projects have been at the heart of the developing relationship.

Brazil, with its rushing rivers, eager consumer base and local construction and funding resources, has attracted particular attention from China’s massive state-owned enterprises. "Brazil is a top destination for these companies, but it is also a showcase. It is part of a broader Chinese plan for infrastructure investment and diversification in the region," says Margaret Myers, director of the China-Latin America Initiative at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington DC-based think tank. "Investments are very limited elsewhere, where we have seen smaller deals."

She points to opportunities in power transmission in Ecuador and Mexico, especially with respect to the latter country’s new energy reforms. "Whether or not the country goes for the Chinese company is another question," Myers says.

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