On April 28, 2011, CASS International Forum 2011 was held ceremoniously in the Beijing International Hotel. Its theme was " Challenges in Sustainable Development: Infrastructure and Urbanization in China and Latin America & the Caribbean ". This forum was co-sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the CAF-Andean Development Corporation (CAF), the Institute of Latin American Studies of CASS (ILAS), the Export-Import Bank of China, and the Development Centre of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), supported by the Graduate School of CASS. More than two hundred guests from government, business, academia and the media participated in the forum. Mr. Cheng Siwei, Vice President of the Ninth and Tenth Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China delivered a keynote speech entitled "Lessons from Latin America in Overcoming the Middle-Income Trap"; Mr. Enrique Garcia, Executive Chairman of CAF, Mr. Li Yang, Vice President of CASS, Mr. Liu Liange, Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of China, and Mr. Marco Ruiz, Costa Rican Ambassador to China, were invited to attend the meeting and had addresses at the opening ceremony. The forum released three special reports respectively entitled “Urbanization in Latin America & Caribbean: Experiences and Lessons”, edited by Mr. Zheng Bingwen, Director-General of ILAS, “Pathways to the Future: Infrastructure Management in Latin America” by CAF, and “Latin American Economic Outlook 2011: How Middle-Class Is Latin America?” by OECD.
Mr. Cheng Siwei said that China may face a "middle-income trap" in the process of economic development, which has experienced in Latin America countries. The lessonss from Latin America tells us that the major task to avoid falling into the “middle income trap” is to transform the economic development model. He believed that in order to achieve sustainable economic development, it was necessary to consider the relationship between urbanization and industrialization, and focus on the infrastructure construction to improve its capacity. In the post-crisis era, as China and Latin America have the same aspirations, it is vital for both sides to strengthen cooperation and explore a way for mutual promotion and common development.
Mr. Zheng Bingwen presided over the opening ceremony. He pointed out that China has become an "upper middle-income" country and may face a variety of challenges in the future development, among which the infrastructure construction and urbanization may have an important impact on China’s sustainable economic development. The majority of Latin American countries have reached the level of middle income in the past century and then remained stagnant, being perplexed by the trap. Thus, exchanges and cooperation between China and Latin America will benefit their development experiences.
Mr. Li Yang, Vice President of CASS, argued that the "middle-income trap" is the result of non-sustainability of economic development, imperfect institution construction, market disorder as well as many other factors. Not only should the growth factor be focused on, but also the new issues in the process of economic development. He added that it is a complicated task to overcome the "middle-income trap". Therefore, China and Latin America should continue to strengthen cooperation for sustainable development.
The forum was divided into three sessions. The first one was chaired by Mr. Wu Guoping, Assistant to Director-General of ILAS, whose theme was “Infrastructure: Role in Stimulating Chinese and LAC Economies”. Mr. Antonio Juan Sosa, Vice President of Infrastructure of CAF, Mr. Wang Jianye, Chief Economist of the Export-Import Bank of China, Mr. Luiz Mameri, President of America Latina e Angola of Construtora Norberto Odebrecht S. A. Brazil, and Mr. Cheng Guocai, Vice President of China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited, expressed their respective arguments and practical experiences in infrastructure construction and their impacts on economy development both in China and Latin America.
In the second session "An Outlook on Economic and Social Developments in the LAC Regions", Dr. Li Fusheng, Member of the Evaluating Committee of the Export-Import Bank of China, served as moderator. Mr. Leonardo Villar, Vice President of Development Strategies and Public Policy, CAF, and Dr. Christian Daude, Head of the OECD Macroeconomic Studies Division, Development Centre, commented generally on Latin American economic and social development respectively. Mr. Zheng Bingwen presented research results achieved by ILAS on Latin American urbanization. Dr. Dai Peng, Deputy General Manager of the Economic Research Department of the Export-Import Bank of China, reviewed China's modernization process. Dr. Angel Melguizo, Economist of the OECD Development Centre, made a keynote speech on the relationship between the pension system and informal employment. Mr. Hui Jianlin, Mayor of Changshu City, Jiangsu Province, introduced experiences on the economic and social development of the city.
The last session “Urbanization: Challenges in City Development” was chaired by Dr. Christian Daude. Dr. Pablo Sanguinetti, Research Director of Socioeconomics Investigations, CAF, Mr. Saul Pineda, Director of Competitiveness Strategy Center, Universidad del Rosario in Colombia, and Dr. Xie Wenze, Associate Researcher of ILAS, presented their research respectively on Latin American urbanization. Mr. Li Weidong, Mayor of Yinchuan City, and Mr. Huang Runzhong, Vice Mayor of Guilin City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, introduced their relevant experience in the process of urbanization in Yinchuan and Guilin.
Mr. Wu Guoping chaired the closing ceremony and Mr. Enrique Garcia emphasized in his concluding remarks that the cooperation model should be highly valued and congratulated to the success of the forum.
As a celebration, the organizers of the conference held the Reception Banquet at the Ball Room of the International Hotel, which was chaired by Mr. Wang Jianye. Mr. Li Jinzhang, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China was invited to have a keynote speech entitled " Challenges and Opportunities in Sino-LAC Cooperation in the Post-crisis Era” and argued that Sino-Latin American relations were entering into a new historical development stage, and with the joint efforts of both sides, we would take the historic opportunity to promote the Sino-Latin American cooperation.