by Victoria Arguello
BUENOS AIRES, May 17 (Xinhua) -- As China and Latin America bolster bilateral ties, Argentina's agricultural sector sees the Chinese market's potential in boosting the South American country's value-added exports, according to a leading soy producer.
Martin Coarasa, a soy exporter from Zarate, a town located 90 km north of the capital Buenos Aires, spoke with Xinhua about his experience of exporting to China for years and the Asian giant's impact on his country's productive sector.
As the world's "leading importer" of soy, China, to a large degree, sets the pace of production in countries like Argentina, said Coarasa.
At the same time, a closer look at China's productive sectors reveals the degree of autonomy it has achieved in many areas by optimizing its industrial capacity, he noted.
So, "the idea is to export them (as) differentiated products, like wine, which is of a very good quality here in Argentina, or foods. For us it would mark a giant step towards improving our exports, and I think it's possible," said Coarasa.
Chinese demand, in any area, is decisive to promoting production in Latin America, especially in places like Argentina, he added.
The soy industry is a clear example of that, he said. Growing Chinese demand, coupled with technological advances, led local farmers to turn their attention to soybeans.
"Exports to China began hand in hand with soybeans. Argentina always exported wheat and corn until soybeans were included, with China being one of the main destinations of the exports," said Coarasa.
In Argentina, soybean exports in grain form are shipped from two ports that are close to each other: the Lima and Palmas ports, both situated on the banks of the Parana River, which leads to the Atlantic via Rio de la Plata River.
Aside from raw materials, Argentina has enormous potential in wading into the Chinese market with other value-added products, but it must first study its target consumers, he said.
China also aims to expand ties with the region beyond the import of raw materials, and is investing in infrastructure, energy projects and other areas, he noted.
Stronger ties between China and Latin America are an important development for the region, as they "signify a relationship with the world's second-largest economy," said Coarasa.