Argentina nuclear deal exemplifies growing Chinese business presence in Latin America

Latin America has often been the setting of conflicts, literal or otherwise, between countries far outside of the region, ranging from territorial disputes in the colonial eras to Cold War covert brinksmanship that always came down to the U.S. versus the former Soviet Union. Most recently, various nations in Central and South America find themselves indirectly tangled in the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute - due in some cases to a declining level of diplomatic relations between the White House and some of these countries' leaders - as they have accepted or are strongly considering business overtures from China.

The ongoing Chinese-Argentine dialogue regarding a new nuclear power plant in Argentina represents the latest example of these foreign tensions' manifestation in Latin America. According to Reuters, the Atucha III project, if fully agreed upon, will be Argentina's fourth nuclear plant and would create hundreds of jobs. The nation regards itself as an innovator and strong presence within this field.

At the same time, its financing, which is being fully provided by China through a currency-swapped credit line worth almost $19 billion, would further cement a steadily growing financial relationship between Argentina and the People's Republic. Prior to this deal, China had already financed a number of Argentine infrastructure projects dating back almost a decade, and also represents the biggest importer of the South American nation's soybeans. The world's second-largest economy can take the position of Argentina's biggest non-institutional lender if it completes the nuclear deal.

Because of its domestic economic difficulties, Argentina lacks the luxury to be particularly picky about its lenders and business partners, despite being one of the biggest U.S. allies in South America in most respects. For example, a separate Reuters article pointed out that the country also recently put the framework in place for a cooperative nuclear energy project with Russia, but this could ultimately help Argentina negotiate a more advantageous Chinese deal. 

Argentina nuclear deal exemplifies growing Chinese business presence in Latin America