A new moment in China-Argentina ties

By Tom Fowdy
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, February 9, 2022
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People are seen at Argentina's food and wine booth during the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 7, 2020. [Photo/cfp.cn]

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez recently travelled to China for the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. During his visit, Argentina and China announced the launch of the Year of Friendly Cooperation. This visit proved to be a crucial moment in China-Argentina ties, as the South American nation formalized its incorporation into the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Moreover, the two countries announced that they will carry out a series of activities throughout the year to enhance mutual understanding and friendship between their peoples, and deepen exchanges and cooperation at the local level.

Argentina has turned to China as a constructive and positive partner that can transform its economic fortunes. Over the past six years or so, the country has fallen upon hard times. A sinking currency and a debt crisis – combined with the impact of the pandemic – have severely harmed its gross domestic product, with average incomes falling from $14,600 in 2017 to just $8,441 today. The country represents a broader pattern seen across South America, with similar declines being experienced to its north in Brazil, as Buenos Ares recently secured a $50 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

Argentina's economic performance has been characteristic of the stagnation which neoliberal focused policies have imposed on the continent. Since the BRI was proposed in 2013, it has been offering participating countries the opportunity to reshape their economic futures through the rapid and affordable creation of infrastructure – in the domains of rail, road, sea, as well as energy – thereby increasing connectivity, market potential and in turn export growth. 

As the second largest country in South America, Argentina has an enormous amount of economic potential. There is a reason why its name effectively translates to "Land of Silver" and that is because of its vast mineral resources, including lead, zinc, iron ore, uranium, manganese, tin, silver, copper and tungsten. 

In joining the BRI, Argentina procures for itself the ability to further develop these lucrative industries through the establishment of wide-reaching infrastructure, which can boost its exports. As China is an enormous consumer of metals in its own production and supply chains, this provides a concentrated and unrivalled market in terms of size for its exports, establishing a win-win partnership between the two countries for mutual economic growth. Moreover, Argentina is also a significant exporter of agricultural and food products including soy and beef, which are also important to China.

In this context, the circumstances have been right for Argentina and China to boost engagement through the framework of the BRI, which will help the two countries deepen cooperation in various areas. As such, both sides are expected to enjoy more opportunities, and forge a transcontinental partnership which will ultimately bring significant benefits to their peoples.

Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. For more information please visit: 


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