UPDATE 1-China lends Argentina $7.5 billion for power, rail projects
(Recasts after deals signed, adds president's comment)
By Eliana Raszewski
BUENOS AIRES, July 18 (Reuters) - Argentina signed deals on Friday to borrow $7.5 billion from China at a time when the Latin American country cannot tap global capital markets because of disputes over unpaid debt.
Among the deals signed, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed on a loan for $4.7 billion from the China Development Bank for the construction of two hydroelectric dams in Patagonia. China Gezhouba Group Corp and Argentina's Electroingenieria SA won contracts last year to build the two dams, which will have a combined generating capacity of 1,740 megawatts.
The Chinese bank also granted a $2.1 billion loan to help finance a long-delayed railway project that would make it more efficient to transport grains from Argentina's agricultural plains to its ports.
"It's a day we can define as foundational in the relations between our two countries," Fernandez said after signing the deals.
China is Argentina's second-largest trading partner after neighbor Brazil. In 2013, Argentina's trade deficit with the Asian country increased more than 20 percent to $5.8 billion.
Argentina is the world's third-largest exporter of soy and corn. China is the main buyer of its soybeans.
Xi, China's first president to visit Latin America's third-largest economy in a decade, arrived in the capital city of Buenos Aires on Friday after participating in a summit of emerging economies of the BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - in Fortaleza, Brazil, earlier this week. Continuación...