by Juan Manuel Nievas and Ni Ruijie
BUENOS AIRES, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Argentine President Mauricio Macri has hailed China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, saying that it will help boost connectivity and promote cooperation with his country.
The initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes over land and sea.
Argentina and China enjoy complementary advantages in the economy: export of Argentine farm products and energy help ensure China's food and energy security, while the infrastructure projects within the Belt and Road Initiative can boost Argentina's development, Macri told Xinhua.
The two countries have great potential in cooperation with regard to infrastructure construction, Macri said.
The current cooperation involves railway, solar energy and hydroelectricity, and within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, China and Argentina will promote the implementation of more projects, he added.
With China's investment and technology, the South American country is revamping its Belgrano Cargas cargo rail network, which is essential to the transport of farm products.
The two countries are about to sign a deal for another railway, said Macri said.
Some Chinese companies have shown interest in infrastructure projects in the country, he said.
Macri will pay a state visit to China and attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation scheduled for Sunday and Monday in Beijing, along with at least 28 heads of state or government.
"Without connectivity, there is no growth," Macri said, adding that Argentina's development hinges on connectivity, both physical and virtual.
"Today the virtual is as important as the physical. If people are not connected to the Internet through high-speed broadband, growth will be limited."
The president noted that there is plenty of room for the growth of cultural exchanges. Every year, more than 150 million Chinese people travel abroad, but only about 30,000 of them visit Argentina, Macri said.
He expected more exchanges and cooperation in football, given the popularity of many Argentine football clubs among the Chinese people.
In July 2014, Xi received a No.10 Argentine national football team jersey with his name on it, during his visit to Argentina, Macri noted.
"Argentina is one of the countries that are most distant from China. But the distance is not the obstacle for our country to attend the Belt and Road Initiative. The upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is a great platform for communication, Argentina is looking forward to participating in it," Macri said.