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Argentina a natural partner, premier tells visiting president

Zhao Shengnan
Updated: Feb 6,2015 7:34 AM     China Daily

China has the expertise and is willing to participate in Argentina’s efforts to revitalize its transportation infrastructure and develop nuclear energy, Premier Li Keqiang said on Feb 5 in Beijing.

With its rich experience in key sectors, including rail, nuclear power, electricity and telecommunications, China is well-positioned to play a constructive role in the South American country, Li told Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

China has the technology, high-quality equipment and competitive prices, Li said, adding that the two countries are natural partners for cooperation because both are developing and their markets are emerging.

Upgrades to bottlenecked infrastructure and development of energy were highlighted in talks with Latin America’s third-biggest economy, which is facing some economic headwinds.

Fernandez, who broke her ankle in December, walked unaided on Feb 5, as she did the day before, against medical advice. The injury had caused her to cancel several overseas trips.

A string of agreements were signed on Feb 4 after talks between President Xi Jinping and Fernandez, including one to collaborate on two new nuclear power plants in Argentina.

During Xi’s first state visit to Argentina in July, the two countries sealed financing deals for the construction of two hydroelectric dams and a railway project there worth around $6.8 billion.

Xu Yicong, the former Chinese ambassador to Argentina, said the country has rich untapped natural resources but is facing some financial hurdles. China is Argentina’s second-largest trading partner, its third-largest source of investment and a leading agricultural commodity importer.

Li said the countries should explore “a package” of cooperation that links financing and the direct trade of commodities. He also called for greater cooperation in agriculture, fisheries, energy and education.

Fernandez, on the final day of her three-day visit, said her trip marked a new starting point for the relationship. Argentina would like to continue exchanges and deepen cooperation with China in various areas, including infrastructure, nuclear energy, telecommunication and education, she said.

Xu said increasing cooperation with Argentina could encourage closer cooperation between China and the rest of the vast Latin American region. In January, Xi pledged $250 billion for investment in Latin America over 10 years and said two-way trade was expected to grow to $500 billion during that period.

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