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Electric Evolution

In Short: Latin America is swiftly adopting Chinese green technology, from electric buses to solar panels, raising concerns in the U.S. about the geopolitical and economic implications. What’s going on? Across Latin America, cities like Santiago and Montevideo are being transformed by fleets of electric vehicles (EVs), predominantly

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by Ludo Lugnani
Electric Evolution

In Short: Latin America is swiftly adopting Chinese green technology, from electric buses to solar panels, raising concerns in the U.S. about the geopolitical and economic implications.

What’s going on?

Across Latin America, cities like Santiago and Montevideo are being transformed by fleets of electric vehicles (EVs), predominantly made by China’s BYD. It’s not just buses; solar panels and batteries are also on the rise. In 2021, China’s exports of these green technologies to Latin America were valued at a whopping $5 billion, and they’re still climbing. This booming trade is part of China’s aggressive push into the green tech market, a sector where the U.S. fears it's lagging behind.

Why are these developments stirring up worry in the U.S.? It's about more than just buses and batteries. The U.S. sees China’s foothold in the Latin American green tech market as a strategic move in a broader global competition. Plus, Latin America, rich in the very minerals needed for these technologies, is turning to China, not its northern neighbour, for the infrastructure of the future.

Why does it matter?

The shift to Chinese green tech in Latin America is a game of high stakes for the U.S., touching on everything from economic influence to national security. The U.S. is concerned that its position in the green tech race might not just be a loss of market share but could translate into diminished geopolitical power. Imagine this: a region historically influenced by American policies now potentially swayed by China through technology and infrastructure investments.

Credit: The Economist

Moreover, there's the fear that dependency on Chinese technology could give Beijing undue leverage over Latin America. Could the tech that powers renewable energy also power political pressures? That's a question U.S. policymakers are pondering. But it's not all geopolitical chess. For Latin America, these technologies mean cleaner cities and new jobs, potentially reducing dependency on imported fossil fuels and enhancing energy security.

This green tech saga isn't just about who supplies the most solar panels or electric buses; it’s about shaping the future of regional and global power dynamics in an era where technology and politics are increasingly intertwined. Latin America’s green pivot could be a blueprint for other developing regions, making it a critical watchpoint for future economic and diplomatic manoeuvres globally.

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by Ludo Lugnani

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