Outside of South America, Argentina is probably known more as the birthplace of the Tango and the romanticized icon Evita Peron. In terms of the country's impact on global affairs, Argentina is also known by historians as an ally to Germany and Italy during World War II - having harbored a number of war criminals - yet in recent years the country has maintained friendly terms with the United States and South American nations once considered political and economic rivals. Trade agreements with South American neighbors have helped Argentina grow as an important agricultural trade partner.
As a member of MERCOSUR, one of the largest free trade zones in the world, Argentina is connected with Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay in a common tax applied to all imports brought into the continent, yet the majority of inter-group trading is accomplished with Brazil. While Argentina does not score as high as other countries globally in terms of gross domestic product, it is the t hird largest economy in the continent, bolstered in part by aggressive growth throughout the twentieth century despite long periods of inflation.
Today, Argentina relies upon its agricultural and tourism industries to maintain the economy, with secondary industries active in mining and construction. Top exports from Argentina to her primary trade partners - among them Brazil, the United States, and Chile - include:
Soybeans - Soybeans and byproducts are Argentina's largest export crop. Approximately 40 million tons of soybeans are produced annually, with the majority exported not for human consumption but for processing into animal feed.
Cereal grains - Approximately 13 million metric tons of rice, wheat, and other grains are harvested annually in the country, making Argentina one of the top exporters of cereal grains in the world.
Natural gas and petroleum - Despite an energy crisis early in the 21st century that resulted in a short of natural gas re serves, this remains a strong export, high in demand among trade partners.
Fruits and vegetables - Citrus fruits are an important crop in the country's agricultural industry, as well as grapes which are highly prized for wine harvesting.
As Argentina is primarily an agricultural nation, imports of an industrial nature are very important to maintain a good balance in the country's industries. Brazil, the country's main export partner, provides Argentina with the bulk of their imported goods as well - accounting for nearly one-third of the overall incoming trade. The United States, China, and Germany round out the top import partners, all of whom provide Argentina with the following:
Machinery - For the processing of agricultural products, Argentina relies upon the imports of corresponding machinery.
Automotive - While Argentina has a growing automotive industry, the country continues to import popular brands.
Electronics - While costs for certain electronic devices are high - smart phones may go for several hundred dollars USD or more - these imports are nonetheless important to help in the modernization of the country.
Organic Chemicals - Chemical suppliers from outside the country provide Argentina with needed materials for a variety of uses, from health to production of goods.
Argentina continues to work toward building its domestic economy. As a major force in South America, continued relations with other top trade nations may help increase awareness of the nation's agricultural assets and in turn boost other sectors.