According to Commerce Secretary Matias Tombolini, the Argentine government reported that approximately 19% of authorized imports in the national system were successfully paid using the Chinese yuan during the months of April and May. To safeguard the country’s dollar reserves, a total of $2.72 billion worth of Chinese yuan was approved for these transactions, leveraging the Chinese swap line.
Advancing in Import Substitution: Argentina Embraces Chinese Yuan as Dollar Alternative
Argentina is making significant progress in diversifying its import payment methods beyond the traditional reliance on the U.S. dollar. Recent data released by the Commerce Secretariat highlights a notable increase in imports settled in Chinese yuan, reaching nearly 20% during the months of April and May. These transactions, totaling an authorized value of $2.72 billion, have been viewed as a significant advancement by Commerce Secretary Matias Tombolini. This shift is expected to have a positive economic impact on Argentina, offering greater flexibility and enhancing the country’s economic outlook.
The alternative of imports in yuan strengthens our reserves and improves the outlook for net reserves, giving us greater freedom and ability to operate to intervene against those who speculate on the economic situation. Tombolini stated:Matias Tombolini
Argentina Harnesses Chinese Swap Line to Mitigate Currency Devaluation and Inflation
To combat the substantial currency devaluation and inflation challenges, Argentina found solace in a $10 billion Chinese swap line established during a bilateral meeting between President Alberto Fernandez and President Xi Jinping in 2022. With the recent extension of the swap line to nearly $20 billion, of which $10 billion can be freely managed, Argentina capitalized on these resources, strategically integrating the yuan as a prominent currency within its internal import adjudication system. This move proved crucial in alleviating the economic strain and bolstering Argentina’s financial stability amidst turbulent times.
Dollar Remains Dominant, but Argentina Seeks Yuan Expansion
Although there has been progress in the utilization of the Chinese yuan, the dollar continues to hold its position as the primary currency for international transactions. During the period of April to May, the dollar accounted for 62% of all imports made. Recognizing the importance of diversifying its currency holdings, the Argentine government aims to increase negotiations settled in yuan, especially considering the dwindling level of dollar-denominated foreign reserves, which reached their lowest point since 2016 in May.
The Central Bank of Argentina views this situation positively, attributing it to the growth facilitated by the Chinese swap line in local currency commercial operations.
In an effort to strengthen central bank reserves and ensure a healthy cash flow, Economy Minister Sergio Massa has scheduled a trip to the United States to negotiate a series of disbursements from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Additionally, Argentina is actively pursuing membership in the New Development Bank, also known as the BRICS bank, to secure additional funding.