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Argentina and China: an Analysis of the Actors in the Soybean Trade and the Migratory Flow

Abstract

This article explains who the actors are and how they interact in the two main issues concerning Argentinian–Chinese relations: the soybean trade and Chinese migration to Argentina. Each of the trade policies of the two states guides the soybean business and the Argentinian migration policy seeks to control the flow of Chinese immigration. However, the growing influence of the Chinese state on Argentina through Chinese state-owned companies and Chinese migrants has infiltrated the role played by the Argentinian state in Argentinian–Chinese relations. But the dominant role played by the Argentinian government in the alliance between the Argentinian government and the big export companies in the soybean trade, and the capacity of Argentina state to control the Chinese immigration flow in the face of non-state actors, both legal and clandestine, show that the government is still able to exert a significant restraining influence on these Chinese non-state actors.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    China became an economic great power in 1998 and eliminated the colonialism of the great powers in 1999 when China restored its sovereignty over Macau [30: 17].

  2. 2.

    Recent studies on the relations between China and Latin America have focused on new actors in the linkage, see, for example, Ellis [9] on the “expanding physical presence by Chinese companies” in the region. However, as Nacht [21] observed: “In most of the research on Argentinian–Chinese linkages, the researchers rarely discuss the actors involved, how they articulate their interests, or how they are supported and legitimized by consensual and coercive aspects.” From this perspective, only very few researchers, for example, Oviedo [30], Bouzas [3] and Laufer [18], have attempted to look beyond the state-centered vision. This article seeks to enrich this vision of international relations.

  3. 3.

    There are two basic types of actors: sovereign states and non-state actors. The state plays a political role, that is, the “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory” [42: 10]. Non-state actors do not play this kind of role. This is the functional difference between the different actors. Non-state actors include: a) intergovernmental international organizations (United Nations); b) non-governmental international organizations (international parties, international churches, terrorist organizations); and c) transnational corporations. In addition, there are several domestic actors, such as non-governmental organizations and private entrepreneurs that also have an impact on international issues. However, ultimately, the state seems to have a significant constraining influence on non-state actors [45: 47].

  4. 4.

    Chinese state-owned companies can be considered as non-state actors, although in a strict sense they are part of the organizational structure of the Chinese state.

  5. 5.

    The volume of Argentinian soybeans exported to China between 2008 and 2014 differed from that between 1995 and 2005 (see [19: 5]), when it increased from US$ 57.4 million in 1995 to US $ 2435.6 million in 2005. The volume of Argentinian soybeans exported to China remained stagnant or declined between 2008 and 2014, due to the fact that Argentina sold about 15 % of the unprocessed soybeans, and also that China did not purchase soy-meal and purchased less soybean oil.

  6. 6.

    On April 1, 2010, the Ministry of Commerce of China made the decision to ban imports of crude soy oil from Argentina. The Chinese government based its decision on national technical factors, but the transnational companies in Argentina produce crude soy oil according to Codex Alimentarius requirements. In fact, the ban was a retaliatory measure against the anti-dumping and non-automatic licenses, introduced by the government of Cristina Fernandez, for goods manufactured in China. One further reason for the ban was Beijing’s decision to strengthen the development of its own crushing industry in the production of soy meal and oil and to avoid foreign competition by importing more beans and fewer value-added products. The main political reason was to apply an economic sanction in response to the judicial order issued by an Argentinian judge, who has requested an international warrant for the arrest of former President Jiang Zemin on charges related to the crimes of torture and genocide committed against Falun Gong practitioners in China. Finally, the dispute can be seen as a test case that shows how tensions emerge in relations with China when the Argentinian government seeks the de-primarization of its economy, by adding value and developing the soybean crushing industry [32: 337–376].

  7. 7.

    Several factors influence the price of soybeans: 1) seasonal variations in soybean supplies; 2) soybean supply and demand conditions; 3) international market price of soybeans; 4) trade policies (producer-country policies; the policies of main consumer countries); 5) price of relative products [6: 4].

  8. 8.

    One measure that has been undertaken against this problem is the Memorandum of Understanding on the prevention of money laundering activities and the financing of terrorism that was signed by the People’s Bank of China and the Central Bank of Argentina in May 2014.

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Correspondence to Eduardo Daniel Oviedo.

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Oviedo, E.D. Argentina and China: an Analysis of the Actors in the Soybean Trade and the Migratory Flow. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 20, 243–266 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11366-015-9360-4

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Keywords

  • Trade Policy
  • Soybean
  • International Actors
  • Argentinian Foreign Policy
  • Chinese Migration