Argentina seeks to agree with China an investment plan for 30 billion dollars

On the eve of the next trip to China, the Argentine government negotiates infrastructure investment agreements worth close to 30 billion dollars.

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The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, will visit the President of China, Xi Jinping, on May 5. One of the backbones of the meeting will be the negotiations for the entry of the South American nation to the Silk Road project and the landing of 5G technology from the hand of Huawei. In addition, it is expected that other important agreements for the bilateral relationship will be discussed, such as the expansion of the Caucharí solar energy park in Jujuy, infrastructure projects, livestock, investments and financing.

After a 2020 characterized by the health and economic crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic, the Argentine government advances in investment agreements with China for a value close to 30 billion dollars. Argentina has 15 infrastructure projects on the list to present to China. These agreements are of great importance for the national government, mainly in view of the necessary reactivation of the Argentine economy.

The projects that Argentina prioritizes for investment from China are the rehabilitation plan of the San Martín Railway system, improvements to the Roca Railway line, infrastructure works on the Miter and Urquiza railway, the redefinition of the Belgrano Cargas railway network and the incorporation of rolling stock for passengers. In parallel, the installation of smart pig farms is being discussed. It is estimated that the value of the investment would be around 3.8 billion dollars for a period of four years, in addition to the objective of producing 882 thousand tons of meat for a value of 2.5 billion dollars.

Likewise, the landing of Chinese investments in mining is discussed, especially in the production of copper and lithium in northern Argentina. Regarding lithium, Argentina signed an agreement with Jiangsu Jiankang Automobile (JJA) for the production of vehicles and batteries in the country. The list of projects includes the remodeling of the Chaco-Corrientes bridge, the construction of an aqueduct and water treatment plants, road corridors and the development of a logistics hub in Tierra del Fuego.

Regarding investments in energy, the president has in his portfolio five main works that require large investments that he will request from the Asian giant. This plan prepared by the Secretary of Energy, Darío Martinez, and the Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, stands out for the non-inclusion of one of the most demanded works by China: the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant in the country with Chinese technology . This works plan includes the construction of the southern gas pipeline, the electric grid in AMBA, the electric grid in Patagonia, the Mesopotamia pipeline and the construction of a thermal power plant.

The construction of the fourth nuclear power plant began to take shape during the government of Cristina Fernández for a value of 12 billion dollars. With Mauricio Macri in power, the cost was lowered to 9 billion. However, with the economic crisis and Macri’s electoral defeat, the project came to a standstill. The arrival of Alberto Fernandez meant for China the possibility of discussing the realization of the project. Another work that does not appear in this plan is the construction of the Chihuido hydroelectric dam in Neuquén. This work claimed by Russia and China would remain in the hands of Germany.

One year after the start of the pandemic in Argentina and the measures that have been adopted to act accordingly, the link with China has deepened. The Chinese market has become the main destination for beef exports from Argentina. Bilateral trade between the two countries, which in 2000 was around 2 billion dollars, closed in 2019 at a value close to 16.3 billion dollars, with Argentine exports for 7 billion dollars and imports for 9 billion dollars. of dollars. In addition, the Argentine government closed an agreement with the pharmaceutical company Sinopharm in early February for the shipment of 1 million doses and the arrival of another 3 million doses is expected at the end of March.

This new boost to the relationship with China is expected to be strategic, commercially balanced and accompanied by the necessary responsibility in environmental and social matters.

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Mariano Camoletto


Gonzalo Roza, gon.roza@fundeps.org