Argentina is rethinking its "closed economy," beefing up ideas for exporting more food products in the competitive Chinese markets and streamlining its export structure, said Diego Ramiro Guelar, Argentine Ambassador to China.
Speaking to CGTN's The Point at the Argentine pavilion during the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, the former trade negotiator for beef exports to China said: "There was little understanding about the importance of the Chinese market."
"A few years ago, there was no possibility even to debate the idea of a free trade agreement [with China]," he said, adding that "This has been changing dramatically during the last two years."
Guelar praised Argentine commodities ranging from beef to wine as "the best in the world," suggesting the country's agricultural businesses was a "major success" in China. China is now Argentina's leading market for agricultural products and also Argentina's second-biggest trading partner, after Brazil.
Echoing Chinese President Xi Jinping's idea of China's ushering in a "New Era" of development, the ambassador said Argentina shares a similar agenda, noting its trade policy is eyeing the export of more added-value products, not only "commodities."
Argentine exports to China are mainly comprised of agricultural goods, such as soybeans, mineral fuels, and meat products, while Chinese exports to Argentina consist mainly of manufactured industrial inputs, electronic products, and consumer goods.
Besides its agricultural links with China, Argentina has answered Beijing's infrastructure call, cooperating with Chinese companies in revamping the country's highways and railway systems, particularly the China State Construction Engineering Corporation's 2.13 billion US dollars' worth of contracts to build a 538-kilometer highway in Argentina.
President Xi pledged to deliver 250 billion US dollars in direct investment and 500 billion US dollars in bilateral trade by 2025 to Latin American and Caribbean region. Guelar believes the China-led Belt and Road Initiative is a "win-win proposal."
"For us, it's a benediction to have a growing China," he said, warning of a "danger" to have just one "hyper superpower" like the US. Guelar expressed, however, optimism about the ongoing trade frictions between China and the US whose leaders are scheduled to meet at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, later this month.
"We are not seeing a war—it's really a negotiation of this very close association," the ambassador said, hoping China and the US – as the "most important association" in the history of the world – would ease their trade tensions soon.
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