Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Argentina on Saturday, the third stop of his multination visit to South America, which is set to boost economic ties with the continent.
In a written statement issued upon his arrival, Wen said China always views and develops ties with Argentina in a strategic and long-term manner. He pledged to strengthen the mutually beneficial cooperation.
Wen's three-day trip is the first visit by a Chinese premier to the country in 27 years and is of special significance for the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, which began in February 1972.
He was scheduled to meet with Cristina Fernandez, president of the host country, to review the development of bilateral ties in all fields.
Yin Hengmin, China's ambassador to Argentina, told reporters earlier that strengthening agricultural cooperation is one of the hot topics of discussion between the leaders of the two countries, as Argentina is the world's major agriculture exporter and China is a main importer of Argentina's soybeans and soybean oil.
The volume of bilateral agricultural trade reached $5 billion last year, accounting for one-third of bilateral trade volume, he said, adding that the two countries will sign three agricultural cooperation agreements during Wen's visit, according to a Xinhua News Agency report.
He said Latin American countries, including Argentina, have attached great importance to relations with China in recent years. The trade volume between China and Latin America reached $200 billion in 2011 with more Chinese investment in Latin America, he added.
There is a lot more potential to be tapped in the bilateral relations between China and Argentina, Chen Yuanting, a Latin American studies expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily.
"Despite 40 years' achievements made by China and Argentina, there are still great opportunities in fields such as politics, economy and culture exchanges," Chen said.
"The bilateral political ties enjoy a sound momentum, but I don't think economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has grown equally to match their economic size and the practical market demand."
Chen said tensions have also arisen in investment and trade due to Argentina's protectionist measures, from which China has suffered the most.
"China and Argentina have established a strategic partnership, but the two nations have not yet set up a mechanism for strategic dialogues," Chen said, adding that more should be done to strengthen bilateral ties.
"Argentine experts view China's economic growth as an opportunity because their economy can benefit and it will help balance the influence of regional power like Brazil," Chen said.
Visit to Uruguay
Before flying to Argentina, Wen met on Saturday morning with Uruguayan Vice-President Danilo Astori and President of the Chamber of Representatives Jorge Orrico. He called for the growth of bilateral trade in both volume and diversification.
During Wen's 24-hour visit to the country, the first by a Chinese premier since Beijing and Montevideo established diplomatic ties in 1988, the two countries released a joint statement and signed a series of cooperation agreements in the fields of the economy, technology, agriculture and quality surveillance.
During the talks with Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, Wen expressed China's interest in investing in a deepwater port project in the eastern region of the country. According to Diego Canepa, spokesman for Mujica, a Uruguayan delegation will visit China in the next three months to discuss the project with potential investors.