Argentine FM points to advantages of deeper ties

Updated: 2013-11-12 07:28

By Zhao Yanrong (China Daily USA)

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Argentina expects to boost cooperation with China in agriculture and infrastructure as part of a broad effort to build a closer political and economic partnership, Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman told China Daily during a recent visit to Beijing.

Argentina, a leading economy in Latin America, also aims to strengthen China ties with the whole region, Timerman said.

In remarks last week, the foreign minister said Argentina's economic development can provide many opportunities for Chinese enterprises.

"As a major agricultural country, Argentina has significant advantages in related technologies. Many of our companies are doing business in China and are helping China's production, not only with higher yields but also with better quality," he said.

"Argentina not only can export raw materials to China but is capable of providing value-added goods to the market. If the two countries cooperate more fully in industrial production, I believe that the bilateral trade volume will increase more rapidly," Timerman said.

China is Argentina's second-largest trading partner after Brazil, with 2012 trade volume at nearly $15 billion. In the first half of this year, trade volume was $7.88 billion, according to the Argentine government.

"We have reached the point at which we need to create more infrastructure for our economy. In that area, China can play a major role, and we hope that it will take advantage of the opportunity," Timerman said.

Argentine FM points to advantages of deeper ties

Last week, China Gezhouba Group, which is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, said it would build two hydroelectric dams in Argentina worth $4.7 billion. The project, in which Gezhouba holds a 60 percent interest, with Argentina's Electroingenieria SA holding the rest, will involve designing and building dams in Patagonia and maintaining them for 15 years.

The foreign minister also said Argentina will build eight more large hydropower plants in 2014.

"If Chinese companies participate in the tender and win the contract, we would be very happy," Timerman said.

China and Argentina are already cooperating in building railways. Last week, Argentina bought 81 Chinese train cars worth $90 million for the Belgrano Sur railway line, Xinhua News Agency reported.

"I hope the two sides continue to deepen cooperation in the transportation sector," Timerman said.

The Argentine government appreciates that the Chinese government is trying to foster good relations with developing economies, he said. In Latin America, for example, conflicts often arise - especially in Spanish-speaking countries - because of differing national interests of outsiders.

"But China never attaches any political conditions when it invests and participates in those countries' economic development," Timerman said. "China never wants to increase its political influence through economic cooperation, which makes us feel comfortable about working with Chinese companies."

Latin America has been seeking solutions to problems of economic and political integration, and Argentina, a power of geopolitical importance, has actively promoted Latin American integration, Timerman said.

"The Chinese government appreciates our efforts in this integration process. The two governments have reached high-level consensus and established many bilateral mechanisms for better communication."

The foreign minister also said the world situation is different than it was decades ago, especially in Latin America, mainly because China is playing a more important and positive role in international affairs.

"China's emergence balances political and diplomatic relations in Latin America," he said. "We used to keep a close relationship with our traditional investors from Europe and the United States, but now China is also involved in Latin American investment, and we are happy about that."

Timerman said ties between China and Argentina have matured in the past decade, and China has become an important part of Argentina's foreign relations.

Sports, too, have boosted Argentina's ties with China. Many Chinese people are interested in soccer and follow the careers of Argentine soccer stars, for example.

Timerman said Argentina also wants to enhance cultural and lifestyle exchanges. For instance, there should be more translations of each other's literary and dramatic works, he said.

"I believe that, with China's involvement, Latin America will develop and improve significantly," he said.

(China Daily USA 11/12/2013 page10)