Chinese products help Argentines a good Christmas

  • China has played an important role in Argentina's recovery after the 2001 crisis

As Christmas nears, at a Disco supermarket in Buenos Aires, Claudio Campos and his family loaded their shopping cart with Christmas decorations, which are mostly imported from China.Toys, photo frames, jewelry boxes, artificial flowers and the traditional mate thermos are some of the favorite Chinese products for many Argentines.

"Trade between Argentina and China is currently positive with record figures on imports and exports alike," Guillermo Azrak, director of bilateral economic negotiations at the Argentine Foreign Ministry, told Xinhua.

"Mainly in 2007, there has been a significant rise of imports" from China, Azrak said.

The past four years have witnessed a 120 increase in Argentina's trade with China, the fastest growth among Latin American countries. The trade is now growing at an annual rate of 20 percent.

This places China as Argentina's third largest supplier and second largest destination for its exports after Brazil in Latin America. Argentina now has a favorable trade balance with China.

China has played an important role in Argentina's recovery after the 2001 crisis, supplying Argentina with large amounts of oil, leather, food, steel and clothing, among other products.

Chinese products have been gaining a bigger market share in Argentina because their quality has markedly improved over the past decade, said Miguel Calvete, secretary general of Chinese Residents' Supermarkets and Self Service Chamber.

He noted that Chinese products now comply with all the quality regulations of European and American enterprises.

Better quality and competitive prices have increased imports of Chinese products to Argentina to the present level of nearly 2 billion U.S. dollars.

Calvete said Chinese products play a positive role in easing Argentina's inflation. "Without Chinese products, inflation in Argentina would be serious," he said.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez on Nov. 30 met with the country's main food suppliers and supermarket owners, praising the role of Chinese-run supermarkets in stabilizing prices in the South American country.

Some 60,000 Chinese currently reside in Argentina, with 80 percent in the supermarket business.

Chinese-run supermarkets, which emerged in Argentina in 1990s, now total more than 3,800. Centering mostly in Buenos Aires and surrounding areas, they hire some 8,000 people and created 60,000 jobs indirectly.

Competitive prices, good service and long business hours have combined to make these supermarkets a big success, with their total annual business turnover reaching 8.5 billion dollars.

Chinese food has also enjoyed increasing popularity among Argentines. Many of them visit the Chinese community in Buenos Aires regularly to buy Chinese food.

Source: Xinhua

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