BUENOS AIRES, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The Argentine agribusiness minister has highlighted the role of good relationship with China, given their complementary economies and increasingly broad bilateral cooperation.
"At the industrial level, the country has never had such a close relationship (with China) as in recent years," Minister of Agribusiness Luis Miguel Etchevehere told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Argentina signed "a historic agreement" with China last year, consisting of food safety protocols that pave the way for the sale of a variety of Argentine goods to the Asian market, from table grapes to honey, blueberries, pork, pancreatic products (used in the pharmaceutical industry), Patagonian lamb or mutton and goat meat, and chilled boned and boneless beef, Etchevehere said.
While noting that China is a key destination for Argentina's agro-industrial exports, the minister said bilateral cooperation has gone beyond trade to energy, infrastructure and mining.
"The Chinese market is very important for the sustainable growth of Argentina's regional economies, because the sale of their products might lead to more employment for Argentine families," said Etchevehere, noting that China has more than 1.3 billion consumers, 32 times the Argentine population.
Today, China is Argentina's second largest trading partner and leading market for agricultural products.
According to data from the Argentine government, two-way trade between China and Argentina amounted to 16.28 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, up by 18.2 percent from a year ago.
"Being a supplier to China is fundamental, because over the next few years the Asian country is expected to increase its imports," he said.
Soybean meal, lemons, wheat, and pecans are among the priority products Argentina hopes to export more to China. Bilateral talks have already been held on exports of soybean meal, one of Argentina's main export products, the official said.
China is the main market for Argentinian meat, one of the South American country's top exports. In 2018, meat exports to the Asian market grew 110 percent year-on-year, generating 883 million dollars in sales, according to Etchevehere.
The two countries have also witnessed advances in technological cooperation in recent years, the official added.
Companies from both countries are now working jointly on research programs such as cultivation of soybeans resistant to herbicides, and the production in China of a vaccine against foot-and-mouth disease using Argentine technology, said the minister.