France and Argentina
France to Argentina visits: Ms Roselyne Bachelot, Minister for Solidarity and Social Cohesion, to attend the inauguration of Ms Christina Kirchner (December 2011); Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, Prime Minister, in January 2013 (with Mr Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister Delegate for European Affairs and Mr Benoît Hamon, Minister Delegate for the Social and Cooperative Economy and Consumer Affairs); Ms Yamina Benguigui, Minister Delegate for Francophony (May 2013); Ms Valérie Fourneyron, Minister for Sport, Youth, Lifelong Education and Voluntary Organizations (September 2013); Mr François Hollande, President of the Republic (February 2016).
Argentina to France visits: meeting between Ms Michèle Alliot-Marie and Mr Hector Timerman in February 2011; meeting between Mr Alain Juppé and her counterpart Mr Hector Timerman in July 2011; visit to Paris of the President of Argentina, Ms Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in September 2011 (interview with the President of the Republic); visit to France of Mr Amado Boudou, Vice President of Argentina (November 2012) and Mr Jorge Coscia, Secretary of Culture of Argentina (March 2013); official visit to France of President Cristina Kirchner (March 2014).
Bilateral meeting between President Kirchner and President Hollande on the occasion of the G20 Los Cabos Summit (19 June 2012).
In 2014, Argentina remained our third-largest trade partner in Latin America (with 8.5% of our trade flows in the region). After peaking in 2013, our bilateral trade fell by 26% to €1.26 billion. Our trade surplus, which was €775 million in 2013, now stands at €524.6 million (24th-largest global trade surplus). French exports, which consist of transport equipment, industrial and agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, are down by 28% (€894.4 million). This trend mainly stemmed from a fall in our exports in the automotive sector, caused by sluggish domestic consumption and the new surcharge on upmarket cars. Our imports (agricultural and agrifood products) fell by 20% to €369.8 million.
France remains one of the biggest foreign investors in Argentina (FDI stock of €2.3 billion in 2013) and some 230 French groups are established or represented there. There is a significant French presence in several sectors: the agrifood industry (Danone, Lesaffre, Louis Dreyfus), the automotive industry (PSA Peugeot Citroën, Renault), oil production (Total), distribution (Carrefour, Casino), the tourism and hotel industry (Accor), health (Sanofi Aventis, Servier, etc.), cosmetics (L’Oréal, Pierre Fabre), and transport (Alstom). French companies employ almost 60,000 people.
Cultural cooperation Our two countries maintain strong relations in this area, which were institutionalized through a cooperation agreement signed in 1964. Our cooperation, which remains dynamic, has been characterized in recent years by the cross-celebration of the Bicentenary of Independence and by a rich programme of events “Paris-Buenos Aires Tandem” (2011). Argentina was also the guest of honour of the Paris Book Fair in March 2014. In Argentina, France has a network of some of the oldest (dating back 120 years) Alliance Française teaching centres, which is also the largest worldwide with 53 establishments.
Scientific cooperation While research and innovation are supported by active public policies (creation in 2007 of a Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation), France is developing very close scientific cooperation with Argentina (over 100 bilateral research projects, 300 annual missions conducted by French researchers). Our two countries have established partnerships in various areas: ECOS-Sud committee (researcher mobility), Bernardo Houssay Programme (mobility of young doctoral students) Saint-Exupéry (co-supervised theses), ARFITEC scholarship programme (engineer training), BEC.AR (Masters Scholarships and stays in laboratories for Argentinians). They are developing binational research teams. In recent years, four international laboratories, a joint international unit and two French-Argentinian centres have been set up. In addition, furthering the bringing closer together of French and Argentinian institutions has led to the signing of new cooperation agreements (mathematics research institutions, civil nuclear cooperation, etc.).
University cooperation Argentina has a vast public university system, which celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2013. Our cooperation, which has developed for a long time in the social sciences and humanities, also extends to higher technical education and engineering. High-level research centres have been set up.
Every year, France hosts 900 Argentinian students (third-largest destination). In 2012, 500 French students went on a mobility programme in Argentina.
Moreover, Argentina was the first South American State with which France signed a working holiday agreement, which entered into force in 2011.
Decentralized cooperation Decentralized cooperation has developed since the first Franco-Argentine Forum was held in 2008. The 2nd Decentralized Cooperation Meeting between France and Argentina, which took place in Biarritz and Pau in November 2012, has also been a success. A number of active partnerships are underway on issues such as sustainable development, competitiveness clusters, vocational training, territory protection and management, tourism and cultural policy.