The Fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE) is currently taking place in Shanghai from November 5-10. China's already close trade relationship with Argentina has been growing closer in recent years, with economic and trade cooperation both on the rise. According to the General Administration of Customs, China was Argentina's second largest trading partner in 2020. China-Argentina trade totaled over $10 billion in the first eight months this year, up 19.9 percent compared with the corresponding period last year. While China exports electronic products and machinery to Argentina, Argentina’s primary produces such as soybeans, beef and aquatic products are increasingly entering the Chinese market.
While participating in the CIIE on November 6, the China Argentina Chamber of Commerce and the Argentina Integrated Hub in Shanghai signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation. The latter is the largest platform for trading, promotion and distribution of Argentine products in China. After the signing ceremony, Luciano Tanto Clement, Argentina’s Consul General in Shanghai, shared his views on China-Argentina economic and trade cooperation in an interview with Beijing Review reporter Li Xiaoyang. The following is an edited excerpt of his remarks:
Beijing Review: How many Argentine companies are participating in this year's CIIE? What are some of the highlights of their exhibits?
Luciano Tanto Clement: A total of 27 Argentine enterprises occupy stands covering 400 square meters at this year’s expo. All of them are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 20 of them are wine companies and the rest are producers of other agricultural products. In addition to Argentine beef, we are also exhibiting fish and lemons. Argentine lemons have recently become a major export into the Chinese market.
How do you view the role of the CIIE?
The major challenge facing Argentine enterprises is the distance between China and Argentina. Argentina is on the opposite side on the earth to China. People of the two countries still do not know fully about each other. For this reason, the CIIE is a platform for Argentina to promote its distinctive products such as wine and fish to Chinese consumers and gain further access to China's market. Argentine producers have worked hard in preparing for this expo.
In what areas are Argentine enterprises internationally competitive?
In addition to food products, Argentina also exports satellites and research reactors. Argentina is a major creator of websites in Spanish-speaking in the world, and it has developed advanced technologies for digital communication. Argentina has five "unicorn" companies, or private companies with over $1 billion of revenue every year. The largest one, Mercado Libre which is equivalent to China’s e-commerce platform Tmall, receives around 100 million monthly visits.
In what ways are Chinese and Argentine SMEs cooperating with one another?
For Argentine enterprises, the key to developing business in China is finding Chinese partners. We are encouraging Argentine companies to work together with their Chinese counterparts in order to grow their presence in the Chinese market.
In May this year, we signed an important contract with Shanghai Tongsheng Logistics Park Investment and Development Co. Ltd., which operates in one of Shanghai’s pilot free-trade zones. Under the contract, the company will now handle warehousing and logistics for Argentinian products entering the Chinese market.
What are your expectations for China-Argentina bilateral trade in the years to come?
Argentina and China have been increasing trade as both economies continue to grow. Given this, we are very optimistic. The bilateral trade over the next two years is expected to be much better than that of this year.
Copyedited by G.P. Wilson
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