Argentina defends ties with China, Russia despite U.S. objection

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 08, 2018 6:40 PM

By Nicolás Misculin

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina said on Thursday that a good trade relationship with Russia and China "does not generate a conflict," days after the United States warned against the growing influence of those countries on Latin America.

Before starting a tour of the region, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that Russia's growing presence in Latin America was "alarming." He said the region did not need "new imperial powers," in reference to its fluid commercial relations with both Russia and China.

"There is an increase in interest (in China and Russia) and we encourage it because it seems very positive, it does not generate a conflict," Argentina's Secretary of International Economic Relations Horacio Reyser told Reuters.

China is Argentina No. 2 trade partner after Brazil, and it is the top buyer of Argentina's main cash crop, soybeans.

Reyser called for more trade with Russia. "Today we have trade with Russia of $900 million, which is really very low. We believe that this can double," he said in a telephone interview.

"There may be some opportunity to grow trade with Russia, just as we can improve our trade with China and also receive investments from Russia and China," Reyser said.

He said this would not imply a concentration of trade with the two countries. "On the contrary, we seek diversification," he said.

Tillerson raised eyebrows last week when he said the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, which has been linked to U.S. armed intervention in Latin America, was "as relevant today as it was the day it was written."

Peru's trade minister Eduardo Ferreyros defended China as a good trade partner on Tuesday.

He said Peru's 2010 trade liberalization deal with China had allowed the Andean nation of about 30 million people to post a $2.74 billion trade surplus with Beijing last year. "We're happy with the results of the trade agreement," he said.

(Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Tom Brown)