Argentine foreign minister visits Qatar to drum up trade
DOHA: Argentina's foreign minister said Wednesday that his crisis-ridden country desperately needed international investment, as he began a two-day visit to one of the world's richest nations, Qatar.
Jorge Faurie said Buenos Aires was "reaching out" to Doha at a time when it battles runaway inflation and economic austerity, and recently agreed to a loan from the International Monetary Fund.
"Argentina is at a point in its economy where it is highly dependent on external financing, which is why we are reaching out to countries that could invest in Argentina," he told reporters at a news conference.
"And Qatar is a country with great potential for foreign investments, and this is why we are in contact with them."
Faurie is expected to meet several high-profile government figures while in Doha, including Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
The visit comes just weeks after Argentina approved an austerity budget, designed to meet the requirements of a $56 billion IMF bailout, despite widespread protests.
Inflation is expected to reach almost 50 percent by the end of this year.
Argentina and Qatar enjoy increasingly warm relations as Buenos Aires seeks fresh trade opportunities and Doha looks for allies at a time when it is isolated regionally in a diplomatic stand-off with neighboring countries.
In October, the emir visited Argentina, and there have been high-profile deals between the two countries.
In June, state-owned Qatar Petroleum acquired a 30 percent stake in two Exxon Mobil affiliates in Argentina, allowing the company access to oil and gas shale assets there.
In May, Qatar Airways became the shirt sponsors of Buenos Aires-based Boca Juniors football club.
Faurie added that Argentina would "be at all times available" for any trade opportunities from the 2022 World Cup, which will be held in Qatar.