by Patricio Giusto
BEIJING, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- In February 2022, Argentina took a fundamental step in deepening bilateral relations with China by joining the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In June this year, further progress was made through the signing of a cooperation plan to jointly promote the construction of the Belt and Road.
Both countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties last year. Argentina's incorporation into the BRI is the most important milestone in a new era of the relationship. It is worth noting that Argentina and China established a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2014, with numerous joint projects that have promoted the economic development of Argentina.
The recent cooperation plan between Argentina and China within the framework of the BRI contains major agreements to carry out critical infrastructure projects and expand cooperation in infrastructure, energy, economy and trade, finance and culture, among other strategic fields. China is consolidated as Argentina's second largest trading partner, behind Brazil. In addition, Chinese investments in infrastructure and logistics have been essential for Argentina over the last decades, along with China's invaluable financial support through currency swaps. This mechanism has been key for Argentina to be able to cope lately with a very serious economic and social crisis.
The main objective of the plan is to maintain a pragmatic relationship to obtain practical and concrete results based on comparative advantages, meeting the development needs of both countries. The plan has a long-term vision, but without neglecting immediate needs of each party.
There are five priority areas of the plan, namely infrastructure, logistics, trade, investment and finance. Argentina has the challenge of increasing exports to China. Argentina's exports to China are concentrated in a few agricultural products. The potential to expand and diversify the exports portfolio is enormous, given the huge economic complementarity between the two countries. No other country in the world is in position to offer so much to Argentina.
Argentina has one of the largest lithium reserves in the world and there are several Chinese companies with investment projects in the northwest of the country. At the same time, it was agreed to promote a regulatory framework that facilitates bilateral cooperation in customs, industrial development and technological innovation.
Finally, it is worth noting the commitment of both parties jointly building a "Health Silk Road." Solid proof of the strength of the bilateral relationship occurred during the pandemic, through the provision of Chinese vaccines and medical supplies that saved thousands of lives in Argentina.
To conclude, there is no doubt that China has become a fundamental and irreplaceable partner for Argentina, and joining the BRI has been a fundamental step. Argentina now has the challenge of being able to properly take advantage of the enormous opportunities offered by China, within the framework of this colossal initiative that is destined to deepen economic development and global integration. Enditem
(Editor's note: Patricio Giusto is the executive director of the Observatory of Sino-Argentinean Relations. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Xinhua News Agency.)