TOKYO – Japan and Argentina reached agreement in principle on an investment pact when their leaders met Friday in Tokyo, and expressed hope for its early conclusion and entry into force to strengthen their economic relationship.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Argentine President Mauricio Macri welcomed the broad agreement on the pact and agreed to “strengthen interactions between the private sectors of the two countries” through the pact, a joint press statement said.
Loans by Japan Bank for International Cooperation to Argentina will be resumed for the first time in 20 years to help build infrastructures in the South American country, Abe told a joint press conference.
Japan is eager to boost relations with the government of Macri, who has advocated open and pro-business policies since taking office in December 2015. Argentina will also host the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization this year and a summit of the Group of 20 major economies in 2018.
Macri is the first Argentine president to visit Japan in 19 years. Abe last met with Macri in November when he became the first Japanese prime minister to visit Argentina in 57 years.
As Japan and Argentina move to strengthen business ties, some 78 Japanese companies already have operations in Argentina, according to Japanese data. The South American country is a major supplier of energy, minerals, soybeans, corn and other commodities.
On trade, the joint statement said the leaders noted concerns over the “emergence of protectionism and inward-looking mindset,” an apparent reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric and Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union, and vowed their “firm commitment to the multilateral trade system in which the WTO plays a central role.”
On security issues, Japan and Argentina “condemned in the strongest terms” North Korea’s nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches and strongly urged it to refrain from any further provocations, according to the statement.
The two countries have traditionally enjoyed friendly ties, and about 65,000 people of Japanese descent currently live in Argentina, the third highest figure in Latin America after Brazil and Peru, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
With 2018 marking the 120th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, Abe and Macri also agreed to promote exchanges in the fields of sport, culture, education and tourism.
Macri said he would like Abe and members of the Japanese imperial family to visit Argentina to celebrate the milestone.