Re: Report from Argentina
An investment and infrastructure works deal with China that passed the Argentine Senate in the embers of last year overrides local laws, is shrouded in secrecy, fosters lack of transparency, and will have a high economic cost for beleaguered Argentina, international relations pundits say, echoing concerns vented by the opposition.
Among the main criticism, the framework agreement establishes that contracts involving Chinese companies and Chinese financing will be awarded directly, without due tender, and also will allow China to bring in its own manpower, a clause that sparked the outrage of Argentina"s building workers union UOCRA.
The Senate vote is the preliminary approval of a deal signed between Peronist President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and visiting Chinese President Xi Jingping on July 16.
It was passed last Monday by 36 votes against 13 thanks to the majority Fernández de Kirchner"s Peronist-led Victory Front coalition in the Upper House. The bill has thus been cleared for debate in the Lower House, also controlled by the government with the help of allies.
Argentina is holding elections in October in which Fernández de Kirchner cannot seek a third straight term after having been elected in 2007 and reelected in 2011.
The administration is cornered by a deep economic crisis and a flurry of corruption cases. It is a staunch ally of South America"s left-leaning governments such as those of Venezuela and Bolivia, and is confronted by the US.
The agreement with Beijing is part of a wider "economic neo-colonialism" strategy on the part of China — now the leading economic power, although not in per capita terms — that includes challenging the US in its "home" area of influence: Latin America. Beijing has already applied that strategy in Africa through similar agreements that include mammoth public works, the experts say.
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