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Argentine President and Xi Jinping Hold Productive Meeting on Sidelines of G20

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EIRNS—Argentine President Alberto Fernández had a very friendly meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, today, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. Although a sudden but brief illness caused him to miss the first two sessions of the international gathering, Fernández was sufficiently recovered to meet with the Chinese President, with whom he discussed two specific financial matters, in addition to broader international issues of concern to both.

On the financial front, Xi agreed to increase by $5 billion the existing currency swap with Argentina’s central bank, for which Fernández thanked Xi effusively, as this provides $5 billion in foreign reserves that Argentina desperately needs. According to the Argentine daily Página 12, Xi emphasized that the offer was an exception that China is making especially for Argentina, bringing the total amount of the swap to $23 billion.

Secondly, the Chinese President agreed to provide $1 billion in financing that had been previously committed to, but not delivered, to cover construction of the giant hydroelectric project in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz. The two-dam project, which is about 40% complete, is being built by a consortium including China’s Gezhouba Group Company Ltd and two Argentine firms.

The Argentine President reported that he and Xi also discussed bilateral issues that are important to both. As “defenders of multi-lateralism,” he said, “we share a commitment to building a more just world in which development includes all people.” Xi discussed his commitment to ensuring a prosperous life for all of China’s 1.4 billion people.

Argentina’s Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja reported in a Nov. 5 interview with El Cronista that the Fernández government will be sending a technical mission to Beijing before year’s end to finalize financing of the several infrastructure projects that were listed as priorities when Fernández signed a Memorandum of Understanding to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in February of this year. This will be an important step in consolidating Argentina’s membership in the BRI.

These include a number of energy and transportation projects, the Santa Cruz hydroelectric complex, and, most importantly, the building of the nation’s fourth nuclear reactor, Atucha III, which Vaca Narvaja described as “one of the largest projects that China will be building in Latin America.” [crr]