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China’s Xi Offers Caribbean Nations $3B in Loans

China’s President Xi Jinping promised more than $3 billion in loans to 10 Caribbean nations and Costa Rica, ahead of a summit in California with U.S. President Barack Obama, according to Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister.

Xi pledged about $296 million in loans to help Costa Rica expand a key highway as part of 13 accords signed with Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla yesterday.

After meeting with leaders from 10 Caribbean nations in Trinidad on June 2, he promised about $3 billion in loans, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said. Further details weren’t disclosed, government spokesman Dennis McComie said in an interview. There was no immediate confirmation of the plans from the Chinese government.

Xi arrived in Trinidad on May 31, three days after a visit to the island by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who was on a regional tour of his own, underscoring the competition for influence in Latin America by the world’s two biggest economies. Xi departs Costa Rica for Mexico today and will meet Obama in California on June 7.

The Caribbean loans may provide some welcome relief to island nations, most of whom have seen growth slow and debt levels jump as a result of increased spending and lower tourism receipts during the global economic slump. Among the island economies, only the Bahamas is forecast to grow more than 1.5 percent this year, compared with 4 percent for Latin America, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Read more: Bloomberg

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