BUENOS AIRES – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Argentina President Mauricio Macri agreed Monday to speed up negotiations for a bilateral investment accord as part of efforts to strengthen economic ties.
In a meeting in Buenos Aires, Abe and Macri also called for deepening exchanges at the leader and ministerial levels and affirmed close cooperation as “strategic partners.”
“We agreed to promote trade and investment between the two countries,” Abe said in a joint news conference with Macri after the meeting.
Macri said, “It is very useful (for Argentina) to build strategic ties (with Japan).”
The leaders released a statement after the meeting welcoming the September start of formal negotiations on the investment agreement and calling for a quick conclusion of the negotiations.
Abe and Macri also agreed to commence talks on a tax pact for increased economic exchanges between the two countries, the statement said.
Tokyo is eager to boost relations with the government of Macri, who has advocated open and pro-business policies since taking office in December.
As of 2015, the number of Japanese companies making their way into Argentina totaled 51, according to Japanese data. The Latin American country is a major supplier of energy, minerals, soybeans, corn and other commodities.
In Monday’s meeting, Abe and Macri underscored their commitment to the success of a summit of the Group of 20 developed and emerging economies that Argentina will host in 2018, according to the statement.
The leaders emphasized the importance of maintaining the freedoms of navigation and overflight, as well as the need for peaceful settlement of disputes in line with international law, amid China’s stepped-up territorial claims in the South and East China seas.
They agreed to cooperate in adopting a new U.N. Security Council resolution to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea in response to its fifth and largest nuclear test in September.
Earlier Monday, Abe met with people of Japanese descent in Argentina and stressed the bond between them and Japan, especially as this year marks the 130th anniversary of the first migration of a Japanese national to the country.
Despite the geographical distance, Abe said the heart of the Japanese people remains connected to immigrants and their descendants in Argentina, according to a Japanese official.
Abe attached great importance to the presence of the Japanese descendant community in Argentina, saying it contributes to building friendly ties between the two countries, and invited about 1,000 Japanese descendants to visit their country of heritage on Japan-sponsored trips over the next five years.
About 65,000 people of Japanese descent reside in Argentina, making it the third-largest such population in Central and South America after Brazil and Peru, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.
Abe became the first sitting Japanese prime minister to pay an official visit to Argentina since Nobusuke Kishi, his grandfather, in 1959.
Buenos Aires was the final stop of Abe’s three-nation tour that also took him to the United States and Peru.