The once tense relations between Argentina and Britain have seen notable signs of rapprochement, as the two countries sought to put aside their territorial dispute over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands and resume trade ties.

tradeIn his two-day visit, Mark Price, British minister of state at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said Friday that the two countries “are at the start of a new era for relations to forge fresh ties that build on our historic connections and common interests.”

The two countries, once locked in the repercussions of their conflicts over the disputed islands in 1982, seemed to have decided to shelve the historical grudge and focus on dealing with the more pressing commercial concerns.

The discovery of potentially rich oil and gas deposits around the disputed islands has renewed the necessity to promote bilateral rapprochement. What adds more momentum is that
Argentina’s new government that took office in December 2015 appears to favor a nonconfrontational approach to the issue, in its bid to revive the national economy and bring the country back into the international financial market.

“Over the coming weeks, we will see a British oil and gas delegation coming to Argentina, and an Argentine delegation attending London Tech Week,” said Price, who came with a trade delegation comprising 10 British companies specializing in such fields as financial service, infrastructure construction and transportation.

“The UK and Argentina have a long history of cooperation in the financial sphere. And London is the leading center in Europe for financial services. If we can work together on this, we can free up the resources that will enable Argentine businesses to grow,” said Price.

In a symbolic tour on Thursday to the Retiro Train Station, an architecture built by British companies more than 100 years ago which sits on the Mitre Line, Price inspected the railway electrification system also constructed by a British firm.

“We are looking at specific opportunities … (and) rail is clearly one of them,” he noted. “Our countries worked together to help build the railway network here, now we can work together to develop it further.”

The British official’s visit came after a meeting in January in Davos between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Argentine President Mauricio Macri, at which the two leaders discussed how to expand bilateral trade.

Prior to his visit to Argentina, part of the trip to boost UK’s trade ties with Latin America, Price has visited Mexico and Colombia.

“The growing economies of Latin America offer huge opportunities for British business and that’s why I want to see real progress on an EU-Mercosur free trade agreement,” said Price, referring to the upcoming talks this month between the European Union and the five-member South American trade bloc, which groups Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The British government estimated that the potential benefit of the agreement to its economy is 2.5 billion pounds (3.6 billion U.S. dollars) per year, Price revealed.

As for the territorial dispute, Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said that the fate of the islands was a “pending subject.”

“There is an issue that separates us … It is certainly going to be part of the conversations we have, but I am not predicting anything spectacular,” said Malcorra.

After the war between the two nations over the sovereignty of the islands, bilateral ties have seen ups and downs, which include fairly warm interactions under the administration of Carlos Menem (1989-1999) and the outright hostility during the administration of Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernandez (2003-2015). Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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