Chinese President Xi Jinping signed dozens of deals in Argentina and Venezuela during his tour through Latin America. The trip, his second to the region since he took office last year, highlights trade between China and Latin America, which reached$262 billion last year.

Xi met with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Buenos Aires July 18. The two governments signed deals totaling roughly $7.5 billion. China agreed to lend Argentina $4.7 billion to build hydroelectric dams in Patagonia, $2.1 billion to renovate crucial freight railways, and $423 million for shipbuilding. Many of the infrastructure projects aim to help transport agricultural products to China. Additionally, the two leaders agreed to an $11 billion currency swap, which will allow Argentina to use renminbi to pay for Chinese goods.

In Venezuela, Xi agreed to open a $4 billion credit line. The money will be placed in an infrastructure and development fund, and repaid with oil shipments. Xi and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also signed 38 deals, including agreements for mineral exploration, the purchase of 1,500 Chinese buses, a new cement factory, development of a third joint satellite, and a $1 billion loan from China’s Ex-Im Bank to Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

On the eve of Xi’s visit, the China Development Bank opened a branch in the Venezuelan capital. The government-owned bank finances infrastructure and development projects, and the Venezuelan branch is only the second in South America. Hu Huaibang, the bank’s president, celebrated the move as a “new beginning to further intensify cooperation between our governments, financial institutions, and Venezuelan companies.”

Posted by Catherine Matacic