BUENOS AIRES – Argentine President Cristina Fernandez defended the investment and economic cooperation agreement with China, which has been a focus of criticism from the largest industrial entity in Argentina.
“It is more a matter of ideology than a matter of protecting the industry. There are political interests and not economic ones for confronting the government,” Fernandez said Wednesday.
She said that on her state visit to China last week important investment commitments in strategic sectors were made that will be realized once the cooperation agreement is ratified on Feb. 25 by the Argentine Chamber of Deputies.
On Tuesday, the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA), the largest employer in the country, expressed its concern over certain points of the agreement on the direct allocation to Chinese companies of Argentine infrastructure projects with Chinese funding and to the conditions of entry of workers from China.
Following the complaint, the government called for a meeting Thursday with the UIA directors, who in recent days have revealed internal differences on the UIA’s position concerning the agreement.
Fernandez argued that the accord and the investment commitments by China will generate thousands of jobs in Argentina.
Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said that the agreements with China were public and none is at the detriment of Argentina’s relationship with the region.
China is Argentina’s second largest trading partner after Brazil.
According to the latest official figures, in the first nine months of 2014 Argentina’s exports to China totaled $4.36 billion, a fall of 9 percent compared to the same period in 2013, while its imports from China amounted to $8.27 billion, with a year-on-year drop of 2 percent.