The launch this week of Emirates\' flight to Buenos Aires opens new horizons of cooperation between the UAE and Argentina and will boost the value of trade between the two countries, a UAE diplomat said. \"I expect the value of trade between the UAE and Argentina to reach $500 million [Dh1.83 billion] in 2012, compared to $300 million in 2011,\" UAE ambassador to Buenos Aires Mohammad Eisa Al Za\'abi told Gulf News in an interview. The launch of Emirates flights to South America, he added, \"reflects the keeness of the UAE government to open new horizons of cooperation with Argentina and other Latin American states economically, politically and culturally\". On Tuesday, Emirates extended its South American network with flights from Dubai to Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. \"This new linked service to two of the most econ-omically vibrant cities in South America will not only boost trade ties with the UAE but will also introduce travellers to Emirates\' route network spanning points all over the globe,\" Thierry Antinori, executive vice-president - passenger sales worldwide at Emirates, said in a statement released in Buenos Aires. With the new services, Emirates — with a fleet of 168 aircraft — now flies to 118 destinations in 69 countries. According to ambassador Al Za\'abi, the launch of the Emirates flights to Argentina is the fruit of negotiations over the space of a few years by company officials. \"They have done their homework and found out that it is commercially viable and in the interest of both countries.\" The UAE opened its embassy in Buenos Aires in November 2008. \"The reputation of the UAE in Argentina was excellent even before we opened the embassy,\" noted Al Za\'abi, a seasoned diplomat with a career spanning over 20 years. He noted that Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, foreign minister, had visited Buenos Aires a few months back and met with Argentina\'s president and foreign minister to cement bilateral ties. Sky cargo potential The UAE is host to 600 Argentine citizens and imports meat, poultry and leather goods from Argentina, besides construction materials, Al Za\'abi said. The new Emirates flights can add Argentine fruits to that list because of the introduction of sky cargo, he added. \"The new line will also help tourism in Argentina from South East Asia through Dubai,\" Al Za\'abi said. DP World, the Dubai-based port operator, is also active in Argentina, he said, adding that there are other investment opportunities for UAE businesses in the context of food security. \"Argentina has vast agricultural lands and animal wealth that we can tap into,\" he said.