Chinese Foreign Direct Investment and Argentina: Unraveling the Path


This article explores the political economy of Chinese outward foreign direct investment (FDI) in Argentina during the reign of Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez. Among other things, it contemplates possible links between Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) volumes and Argentina’s domestic and foreign policies. It also analyses a mixture of successful and unsuccessful Chinese investment cases in the agricultural, chemical, and banking sectors in order to engage the debate about the drivers of Chinese OFDI (COFDI), with some stressing business and economic factors and others emphasizing the primacy of political factors. In regards to the former, my study shows that Argentine policymakers did not offer special accommodations to Chinese investors despite the pro-China proclivities of Argentine leaders and their country’s economic and political need for China. Moreover, at the local level, Argentine politics actually proved to be an obstacle to successful Chinese deals. As for the latter issue, Chinese companies were not inclined to invest in Argentina because of the China stance of the Argentine government, but rather because they saw opportunities to exploit fertile agricultural soil, special tax regimes for investors, and opportunities to integrate into global value chain. My findings have a number of important theoretical and policy implications.

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  1. 1., The CGIT dataset draws upon announcements of investments of Chinese companies abroad with values over USD $100 million

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    Later, I plan to examine what factors differentiate successful from unsuccessful Chinese investments in Argentina.

  3. 3.

    Except as otherwise noted, all amounts specified herein are in US Dollars (USD).

  4. 4.

    Even though the CGIT excludes lower value transactions, the total COFDI in Argentina in this dataset is bigger than the ones already mentioned in this paper. According to the CGIT the stock of COFDI in Argentina by 2014 was USD$ 9,5 Billion USD.

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    Interview with Argentinean diplomat in 2017

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    Interview in 2016.


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This is a revised version of a paper presented at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Association of Chinese Political Studies, Nankai University, Tianjin, China. The author would like to thank the participants on the “China’s Trade and Investment Relations with Latin America Panel” for their useful feedback and suggestions and especially the special issue editor Jean-Marc F. Blanchard for his substantial guidance regarding content and editorial issues. The author also would like to thank his two anonymous interviewees, both government officials, for their contribution.

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Correspondence to Javier Luque.



Table 5 Summary of left governments in LA

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Luque, J. Chinese Foreign Direct Investment and Argentina: Unraveling the Path. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 24, 605–622 (2019).

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  • Chinese outward foreign direct investment
  • Argentina
  • Kirchnerism
  • China