Chinese president Xi Jinping’s business trip to Latin America has reached Argentina, where he has signed more than 20 agreements with his opposite number Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.Â
China has followed what has become its established procedure of offering to fund and construct infrastructure in exchange for raw materials. The money will be particularly welcome to Argentina at the moment, as it has little access to global capital markets because of disputes over its existing debt.
Our two countries find themselves at a historic crossroads– Xi Jinping, president of China
Altogether, the China Development Bank is to provide $7.5bn in loans.Â
Among the projects that this money will be spent on are two dams in Patagonia with a combined generating capacity of 1.7 gigawatts, for which China will loan a total of $4.7bn.
It will also provide $2.1bn towards a railway improvement programme that will help to transport Argentine meat and grain to ports for shipment to China. Some of these goods will eventually be carried in the 11 cargo ships for which China is providing $423m.Â Â
China is already Argentina’s largest trading partner after Brazil, and last year, the South American country’s trade deficit with China rose more than 20% to $5.8bn.
Xi today made a speech to the Argentine legislature in which he said: "Our two countries find themselves at a historic crossroads. We have just marked 10 years in the strategic association between Argentina and China and the time has come to open new horizons."
President Kirchner said: "It’s a day we can define as foundational in the relations between our two countries."