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Argentine Finance Minister Begins High-Level China Tour May 30

May 29, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Argentine Finance Minister Sergio Massa will arrive in China tomorrow, landing in Shanghai, where he will stay for three days, then go on to Beijing for two days, with high-level meetings planned in both locations. He is traveling with a large delegation, including the Secretaries of Transportation, Agriculture, and Energy, plus high-level officials in charge of international relations and development, as well as the Central Bank Governor Miguel Pesce. Argentina’s activist Ambassador in Beijing Sabino Vaca Narvaja, who helped organize the trip, will also join the delegation.

This trip is the result of intense diplomacy of recent weeks, in which Brazilian President Lula da Silva has intervened with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Dilma Rousseff, the new chairman of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), to seek relief for Argentina, which is suffering from the crisis created by years of IMF predatory lending and brutal austerity, which is what Lula described as the IMF “holding a knife to Argentina’s neck.”

A high point of the Shanghai visit will be Massa’s attendance at the 8th annual meeting of the NDB’s Board of Governors May 30-31 to which he was invited by Rousseff and Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun. There will be discussion there of specific mechanisms by which the NDB might aid Argentina, one of which would be modifying Article 7 of the Bank’s statutes to allow it to pre-finance Brazilian exports to Argentina, that would be paid in pesos and later converted to Brazil’s currency, the real. Other discussion involves whether non-member Argentina, which has announced it plans to apply to join the BRICS, might access the NDB’s emergency funds available only to members that have currency crises.

Meetings in Shanghai will include Massa’s bilateral meeting with Rousseff, with China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, possibly with Foreign Minister Qin Gang or another high-ranking Foreign Ministry official, and with the executives of major companies already investing in Argentina in the areas of energy, mining and lithium, to urge them to increase their investment.

In Beijing, on June 2, Massa will meet with the Governor of the People’s Bank of China Yi Gang, to request an expansion of the existing $18 billion currency swap up to $38 billion, and with Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission Zheng Shanjie, with whom he will sign a Cooperation Plan on the Belt and Road, in representation of the Argentine state. On June 3, he will meet with Finance Minister Liu Kun to discuss additional Chinese financing for Argentine infrastructure projects, which were already agreed to by President Alberto Fernández when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding on joining the Belt and Road Initiative in February 2022, during his meeting with President Xi Jinping.

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