China, Argentina to promote BRI as South America pivot rolls on



China has signed a cooperation agreement with Argentina on promoting the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China's state planner said on Friday. Analysts believe this shows China's intention to build high-quality economic relationship with Argentina amid South America's de-dollarization efforts.

The agreement will deepen collaboration in areas including infrastructure, energy, economy and trade, finance and culture, further advancing the two countries' joint construction of the Belt and Road, according to a statement released by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

This agreement marked another milestone in the ongoing China-Argentina collaboration under the BRI, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding in February 2022.

"Since establishing diplomatic relations, China and Argentina have enjoyed a stable and robust bilateral relationship, providing a solid foundation for cooperation. The economic and trade ties between the two countries have experienced rapid growth," Zhang Chengcheng, co-founder of LATAM CHINA TECH told CGTN on Saturday, citing data that in 2020, China surpassed Brazil to become Argentina's largest trading partner and in the first quarter of 2023, the trade volume between China and Argentina reached $4.647 billion, with a year-on-year growth of 6.6%.

The cooperation plan was signed during Argentina's Economy Minister Sergio Massa's visit to China this week.

Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao said, after meeting Massa on Thursday, that China welcomes Argentine companies and products to enter China and hopes Argentina will provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies to promote high-quality development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, according to a Ministry of Commerce statement.

Massa added on Twitter that both countries "are working to continue strengthening bilateral trade ... by opening new markets".

China is trying to expand its footprint in South America. In the region, China has struck a deal to ditch the dollar for trade with Argentina and Brazil, and Ecuador recently signed a free-trade agreement with China.

Meanwhile, Argentina has signed a deal to renew its currency swap line with China and double the amount it can access to near $10 billion, the South American country's central bank said in a statement on Friday, a boost to its dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Zhang believes the agreement will further promote sustainable economic development, create more opportunities for cooperation between businesses on both sides, provide an expansive platform for fostering technological innovation, and enhance the well-being of people in both countries.