Latin America’s Economy Now Lives—And Dies—on Chinese Growth

Latin America’s Economy Now Lives—And Dies—on Chinese Growth
A woman passes by a display showing Evergrande’s domestic commercial projects, in Beijing, China, Dec. 7, 2021 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Late in September, when stock markets around the world went into spasms of anxiety following news that Chinese real estate giant Evergrande might go bankrupt, the shockwaves reached all the way to Latin America, about as far from the Chinese mainland as one can get. In fact, South American markets dropped even more than those in the United States, even though Evergrande has had little, if any, contact with the region. That’s because Latin American economies are not just deeply entwined with China, but are increasingly dependent on its growth to sustain their own.

The drama of Evergrande, with its $300 billion in debt—larger than the economies of 3 out of every 4 countries on Earth—is still far from over. But its struggles point to problems in the Chinese economy that could pose an even greater, longer-term danger to Latin America.

Beijing’s efforts to protect the impressive rates of economic growth it achieved in recent decades are now facing stiff headwinds. Premier Li Keqiang finally recognized this fact during a gathering in Beijing a few weeks ago, admitting that “new downward pressures” have taken a toll on growth. He listed the stubborn persistence of the coronavirus pandemic, supply chain disruptions, energy shortages, a steep climb in commodity prices and climate-related disasters—including major flooding in recent weeks—as culprits. 

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.