At Palacio San Martín, Foreign Minister Solá met with the ambassadors of Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, member countries of the Buenos Aires Committee (ACBA) Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). They discussed the level of trade relations and various technical cooperation projects that Argentina carries out with members of that bloc.
Solá noted “how important ASEAN is for Argentina’s strategy of integration with that region through Mercosur,” and highlighted the interest in intensifying and diversifying trade with its member States, fostering investment and promoting cooperation on high technology.
“We must get to know more about each other. Argentina can open markets for its high-quality agricultural products through Mercosur, but it also has important scientific and technological spaces that can be explored,” stated the Foreign Minister, who was accompanied by the Chief of the Private Office of the Foreign Ministry, Guillermo Justo Chaves; the Secretary for International Economic Relations, Jorge Neme; and the Director for Asia and Oceania, Eduardo Acevedo Díaz.
The ACBA members thanked the Foreign Ministry for its support for the Committee’s activities and highlighted the potential of relations between ASEAN and Argentina in both the economic and cooperation fields.
Argentina has embassies in six of the ten ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and it is engaged in 12 technical cooperation projects at the bilateral level, in areas such as agro-industry, science, technology and innovation, enhancement of public management and human rights.
In addition, Solá highlighted that Argentina, currently holding the Presidency Pro Tempore of Mercosur, hopes to further enhance trade relations between both blocs, and he stated that Mercosur is willing to explore the possibility of initiating trade negotiations with ASEAN countries willing to do so.
During the meeting, the group of Asian representatives was headed by the Indonesian ambassador, Niniek Kun Naryatie, as President Pro Tempore of ACBA, and included the ambassadors of the Philippines; Linglingay F. Lacanlale; of Thailand, Patcharee Poompachati; of Vietnam, Thanh Duong Quoc; and the Malaysian Chargé d'affaires, Ahmad Shazril bin Suhaimi.
ACBA, established in 2018, contributes to disseminate the importance of ASEAN in our country through different activities. In this regard, the Minister thanked for the cooperation for the donation of non-perishable items in 2020 when Argentina was at the peak of the pandemic.
ASEAN has a population of about 649 million people. In economic terms, it is one of the most important blocs at the international level, with combined GDP of USD 2.7 billion (2019), making it the third economy in Asia, behind China and Japan. ASEAN’s Economy Community is considered Argentina’s third trade partner, following Mercosur and the European Union. During 2020, trade with ASEAN recorded a surplus of nearly USD 3.36 billion, the largest one in comparison with different countries and economic blocs. Two ASEAN countries (Vietnam and Indonesia) are among Argentina’s ten main export destinations. In addition, trade relations with countries such as Malaysia and Thailand are very important within Argentina’s trade structure.