From the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a short stopoff in Uruguay and then went on to Argentina for a three-day state visit, which was in part to celebrate the anniversary of 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Warmly received as an honored guest, Wen signed a number of important trade and economic cooperation agreements, in the areas of railroad construction, nuclear energy, transportation, agriculture and biotechnology, among others.
China Daily pointed out that China is now the biggest trade partner of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru. In the past decade trade between the U.S. and Ibero-American countries doubled, but the trade between China and Latin American countries grew 17 times over. Also investment from China is growing at a rapid pace.
Wen's visit followed President Cristina Fernandez's broad-ranging discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 meeting in Mexico, during which the two also discussed a range of economic, scientific and political projects already in the works. As the Chinese Premier underscored June 23, China wants to strengthen its strategic partnership with Argentina, established in 2004, to seek ways to jointly confront the global financial crisis, through a process of "common development." Fernandez emphasized "we are united by our common goals, achieving peace and prosperity for our people." The relationship between China and Argentina is not only economic, she said, but profoundly political. Referencing China's support for Argentina's claim to sovereignty over the Malvinas, she noted that "we have a common vision also in terms of the integrity of our territories."
Wen and Fernandez also held a videoconference with the Brazilian and Uruguayan Presidents to discuss how to consolidate China's cooperation with the Common Market of the South, Mercosur.
The many agreements signed by the two governments include one for cooperation in the area of nuclear energy, as well as for a credit line extended by China's Trade and Industry Bank for the rehabilitation of the Belgrano Cargas railroad line. A "Joint Action Plan for the Global Strengthening of Cooperation in Agriculture," includes plans for Argentina to increase agricultural exports to China, including beef, wine and corn and fruits.
Wen was upbeat about increasing cooperation in the areas of science and technology, noting that with China's growing demand for food, "biotechnology is very important for my country." He met with personnel from Argentina's National Science and Technology Research Council, CONICET, and from other scientific institutions. It was also expected that through its national oil company, China would also make substantial investments in oil and gas development in Argentina, and engage in joint projects with the recently-renationalized YPF oil firm.