Amid trade war, Argentina sees opportunities with both US and China

  • The G20 host country has benefited from the disrupted soybean market, both becoming the leading importer of US soybeans and selling more of its own to China
  • Marisa Bircher, Argentina’s international trade secretary, said ‘we are looking to increase trade and investments’ with US and China alike
PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 November, 2018, 6:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 November, 2018, 2:28pm

While the world’s attention is drawn to the US and China trade-war drama at the Group of 20 summit, the host nation is stressing its intention to further promote trade and cross-border investments with both of its biggest guests.

“Argentina continues to have excellent relationships with both countries,” said Marisa Bircher, the nation’s international trade secretary, said at a G20 briefing on Thursday. “Both the US and China trust Argentina and we are looking to increase trade and investments with both.”

She added: “We continue to promote exports and have increased exports to China, Vietnam and other Asian countries.”

The Latin American country, which is hosting the G20 summit meeting this weekend in its capital city of Buenos Aires, has seen its soybean trade with both the US and China rise dramatically this year as a result of their escalating trade war.

China had been the leading importer of US soybeans, which it uses as a protein source for feeding livestock and for cooking oil. But when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on US$50 billion in Chinese goods this summer, Beijing retaliated with tariffs on a like amount of American exports – including soybeans.

That led to a collapse in US soybean farmers’ sales to China, with US federal data estimating that soybean sales to China have declined 94 per cent from last year’s harvest.

As trade war batters Chinese demand for soybeans, US farmers turn to grains

Argentina has become the top purchaser of US soybeans, buying 1.3 million metric tonnes through the roughly three months from September 1 to November 22, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

And despite a drought that hit Argentina's soybean production this year, the country’s increased US purchases have, in turn, allowed it to sell more of its own soybeans to China, which needs other suppliers now that its purchases of the crops from the US have virtually ended.

Argentina was also close to signing a deal with the US that would allow two-way trade of fresh beef for the first time in nearly two decades, Reuters reported this week.

At Thursday's briefing, Bircher said that aside from trade, her government is also focused on attracting more foreign investment to Argentina.