China and the Southern Cone: Trade with Argentina, Uruguay & Paraguay

South america

Argentina has seen its trade with China boom over the last decade, its plentiful supply of foodstuffs such as soya and soy oil has attracted Chinese buyers en masse, thanks to huge demand from 1.3 billion consumers back home. As Chinese consumers become richer and tastes change there will be scope for increasing the level of other Argentine exports such as beef. Argentina has also been a major beneficiary of Chinese lending; receiving USD 11 billion in the last five years, a significant portion of this going on a upgrading the country’s rail system, which in turn will make it more efficient to get agricultural produce from the farm to port, as well as making life more comfortable for travellers.

Chinese immigration has also been highly visible in Argentina, with Chinese supermarkets and shop proliferating across the capital, supplying cheap consumer goods, often straight off the boat from China.


This landlocked country is South America’s remaining Taiwanese ally; this may change over time if Paraguay seeks to attract more investment from the Beijing government. However, lack of formal recognition has not stopped Chinese investment in other states. For Taiwan, Paraguay is the largest country to formally recognise it and so greatly values the friendship, ensuring it receives a generous aid package. For now Beijing and Taipei have agreed to stop “poaching” each other’s countries in order to foster better relations between one another.


This small nation sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina has seen its ties with China blossom, only its trade with its giant northern neighbour Brazil is now worth more. Uruguay has ambitious plans for a new deep water port, which will be a gateway to the Southern cone of Latin America, funnelling the huge volumes of food and natural resources that come from that part of the world. The Montevideo government are betting on the hope that Beijing will be willing to fund this project, particularly as so much of the produce goes to China.

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