Back in 2004, then-president Néstor Kirchner sealed the country's first agreement with China. A decade later, under her own presidency, it was the turn of his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, to upgrade this agreement, in the process converting Argentina into a “strategic trading partner” of the Asian country. Today, the Cabinet chief during those two administrations, and a man who played a large role in creating that first alliance, is president. Now, as head of state, Alberto Fernández is looking to continue along the same track.
President Fernández is planning a strategic trip to China. Within the Sino-Argentine diplomatic world, it’s an open secret.
It would seem that everything is lined up for the president’s first trip to China. Between November 5 and 10, Shanghai will be the venue for the International Import and Export Exhibition, a key trade fair. Given that the Asian giant is Argentina’s leading trade partner at present, the Alberto Fernández administration cannot afford to miss out.
That’s why the Foreign Ministry has started work on planning the trip. Foreign Minister. Felipe Solá is sure to be included, alongside other ministers, various governors and businessmen who have interests there, such as Hugo Sigman or Gustavo Grobocopatel. But above all, it is hoped that the president will attend. He has already been invited to travel to China for a personal meeting with Xi Jinping.
There is plenty on the agenda to talk about. Talks will cover the pork industry, the agreement to build a new power plant with Chinese investment, the accord with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (BAII) and the possibility of incorporating Argentina into China’s Belt and Road Initiative plan for political and commercial integration.
There are also discussions over advancing with the possible elimination of visa requirements for Chinese visitors to Argentina, in line with tourists from the Mercosur region. The plan, according to the Foreign Ministry, is to encourage a million Chinese holidaymakers to visit Argentina next year – the hope lies in the Chinese being the world’s freest-spending tourists, a daily US$300 on average.