Argentina/China sign a raft of agreements to boost trade and investment
Argentina signed with China a raft of mostly farm-related agreements at a ceremony on Monday in Buenos Aires attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Argentine president Cristina Fernandez.
China is Argentina's biggest client of agricultural products and its second largest trade partner. Bilateral trade totalled 14.8 billion dollars in 2011, with 8 billion dollars surplus for China.
Argentina is the world's number one exporter of flour and soy oil, number three soy bean exporter, and number two corn exporter.
The two delegations also signed a nuclear energy cooperation accord and agreed on the terms of a Chinese loan to modernize Argentina's Belgrano Cargas railway network, officials said.
The low-interest loan package at roughly 2 billion dollars should help finance the modernization of a 1.500-km route that stretches into important soy-growing regions in the north of the country, the Economy Ministry said. China is a leading buyer of Argentine soybeans and soy-oil.
Argentina has three nuclear plants the last inaugurated in September 2011, and has plans for a fourth.
Other areas of cooperation include infrastructure, financial services, energy, polar regions research, oceans and environment, aviation and tourism, according to the delegation from Beijing. The two leaders also pledged closer people-to-people exchanges to create a stable, friendly and convenient environment for the development of bilateral ties.
During Wen's two-day visit, Argentina also hoped to draw Chinese investments in its oil industry, after having seized Spanish oil company Repsol's controlling share of YPF, Argentina's largest oil company.
At a ceremony Sunday in a museum opposite the presidential mansion, Wen hailed 40 years of bilateral ties as an important milestone and praised the deepening friendship and trust between Buenos Aires and Beijing.
“Under the current adverse world economic situation, China and Argentina must keep their markets open, understand each other and strengthen cooperation between relevant government agencies to properly resolve each other's concerns and promote the continuous and balanced growth of bilateral trade”, said the Chinese PM Wen.
Cristina Fernandez said China had played a paramount role in fuelling global growth over the past 10 years. She stressed that both countries have a common vision on defending territorial integrity and acknowledged China's support for Argentina's claim to the disputed Falkland Islands, which are administered by Britain.
Wen Jiabao has already stopped in Brazil and Uruguay during a four-nation tour of Latin America that concludes in Chile where he arrived late Monday.