Argentina Ready to Sign MOU on Joining the Belt and Road Initiative As Soon As Possible
May 28 (EIRNS)–In a lengthy interview with the Spanish-language edition of China Today published May 18, Argentine Ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, underscored that while President Alberto Fernandez was unable to travel to China in early May to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he is absolutely committed to doing this as soon as conditions permit him to travel, or alternatively, to sign the MOU virtually during this year’s biannual Belt and Road Forum.
Vaca Narvaja, who is an expert on China, noted that of course Argentina seeks to maintain a positive, “mature” relationship with the Biden administration, but pointed out that China is Argentina’s “main investor and financier.” China’s strict protocol for quarantining foreign visitors makes it difficult for the President to travel right now, because of the time this would involve, but, he continued, “it’s an option to sign the MOU for the Belt and Road if the President’s trip is put off much longer. We want to sign it as soon as possible because we already announced it, and because our government’s decision is to deepen even further its relations with China.” The bilateral relationship “is central for our President,” he said. “China is one of the countries at the top of his travel agenda.”
China and Argentina, he said, are about to renew a five-year development perspective including 16 to 20 development projects worth $30 billion, to be presented soon to China’s National Development and Reform Commission and to the Argentine Foreign and Finance ministries.. Those projects include railroad construction, telecommunications, energy–including a new nuclear plant with China’s Hualong technology–science and technology, “everything that has to do with bioceanic corridors…and working on the possibility of improving our rail lines and highways to have access to both the Atlantic and Pacific.” In this context, he emphasized the necessity of Latin America forging its own economic integration, having a long term development perspective just as China does, and pointed to ASEAN and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as examples of Asian integration. “If we don’t integrate and begin to think on a level of scale, our relationship will be more difficult,” he warned.
“China is a sufficiently large market for us to think about a continental strategy and this must be a policy of state for our governments,” he insisted. ”Our relationship with China should be an excuse to work for the long term in the region.” Latin America, he said, “should have its own Belt and Road and its own infrastructure plan linked to [China’s] Belt and Road Initiative.” China’s economy and those of Latin American nations are complementary, so, he emphasized, “we have a lot of potential for joint development and the Belt and Road Initiative is the most ambitious infrastructure plan for humanity.”