MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Argentina 2018 I Politics & Diplomacy I Leader
BIOGRAPHY Born in December 1951, he graduated in Law in the Universidad Nacional del Litoral and in the Argentine Foreign Service Institute in 1976. Previously he has been the Ambassador of argentina to France & Portugal, Secretary for International Coordination and Cooperation, Ambassador at the General Directorate for Cultural Affairs and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“IN A VOLATILE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT, WE ARE COMMITTED TO A COLLABORATIVE, PARTICIPATIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE.”
HOW IS THE SITUATION OF THE NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN MERCOSUR AND THE EU? WHAT ABOUT OTHER COUNTRIES?
Shortly after President Macri´s administration took office in December 2015, talks with the European Union were re-launched. The four members of MERCOSUR are fully committed to reaching the conclusion of this long-awaited Association Agreement. Both MERCOSUR and the EU should take into account the expectations of the other side and try to bridge the gap between each other’s positions in order to close the deal. We are convinced that a compromise between longer transition periods and meaningful access from the entry into force of the agreement is at a hand’s reach.
In addition, we are concerned that the window of opportunity may be less favorable in the near future and that is why we need to move forward quickly, making the necessary political decisions promptly. Since President Macri took office, MERCOSUR has reignited a largely trade agenda by engaging in several negotiations. Better and deeper integration with the world economy is a key part of a larger program of economic reforms. We believe that our economy needs to be more open to trade and investment, and our firms need to be more integrated into global value chains. We know that our economy can no longer rely only on its domestic market, and in order to improve our growth perspectives, we depend on our future access to the world market.
Furthermore, negotiations were initiated with EFTA (the trade association of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) in 2016. The fourth round of negotiations will be held in Geneva in July 2018. We also started negotiations with Canada in March 2018, with whom we agreed on an ambitious timeline to reach an agreement in 2019. Additionally, MERCOSUR has launched negotiations with South Korea and also developed a formal cooperation scheme with the Pacific Alliance. A strong agenda on trade facilitation between both schemes may have a huge potential in terms of regional integration of Latin American countries on an open trade and investment friendly basis.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE STRATEGY OF INTELLIGENT INSERTION AND ARGENTINA’S FOREIGN POLICY OBJECTIVES?
Our foreign policy follows the principle of intelligent insertion in the international theatre and the objectives of poverty reduction and improvement of quality of life of the Argentine population. These are key motivations for President Macri. The intelligent insertion brings opportunities, focuses in our interests and allows us to consolidate our presence in the world. We are holding commercial negotiations with 50% of the global GDP, tightening our bonds with Latin America, Asia, the European Union, United States, Russia and new partners. We are also committed in the international re-launching of the MERCOSUR and we perceive that the dialogue with the Pacific Alliance will lead us to a bi-oceanic integration without precedents.
Moreover, we are deepening the Economic Complementation Agreement with Chile, Colombia and Mexico and have reestablished a mature relationship with the United States, which has led us to be reincorporated in the Generalized System of Preferences, increasing our export supply. We have also achieved, after 15 years of negotiations with China, the signing of the protocols to export cooled bone-in and boneless beef, which will boost our livestock production and will diversify the exports to the Chinese market. Furthermore, we were recognized in the Official Indonesian Food Safety System to export products of vegetable origin. We are also powering the links with the countries of the Gulf and the Maghreb, as well as Israel and Egypt. We reopened our Embassy in Singapore and work to strengthen the strategic relationship with Japan.
WHAT ARE THE KEY ISSUES CONCERNING THE G20 FOR ARGENTINA’S PRESIDENCY?
For Argentina, the presidency of the G20 means a key role to place the potentiality and preoccupations of our region in the world agenda, to show us as an attractive destination for tourism and investment. Our production capabilities, the abundance of our natural resources and the excellence of our people are key attractive assets. The Argentine agenda follows the motto “Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development”. Its priorities are focused in the future of labor, infrastructure, technological achievements, social integration and sustainable food and soil management. With strong ties over multilateralism, we promote a consented approach to the negotiations that deepens global governance and favors free, transparent and fair trade. In a volatile global environment, we are committed to a collaborative, participative and constructive role.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO FOREIGN INVESTORS INTERESTED IN ARGENTINA?
With a GDP of $638 billion, Argentina is Latin America’s third-largest economy and fourth most populated country. It is also one of the main food producers in the world, with large-scale agricultural and cattle rearing industries as well as being a leading exporter of soybean, its byproducts and the main producer of sunflower seeds and lemons. It is a country with significant mining and oil reserves. Argentina has dynamic industrial complexes such as the automotive industry. Other rapidly growing sectors are renewable energies, biotechnology, and knowledge-based services.
Since President Mauricio Macri took office in December 2015, our Government has implemented an economic plan focused on normalizing the economy. These policies seek to achieve fiscal balance reducing inflation and the current primary deficit to zero. This has been done in a gradual manner and substantial reforms have been implemented: tax reform, capital markets reform, competition law, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) law, among others.
Argentina continues heading steadily towards achieving economic development aimed at global inclusion. An example of this is the deepening cooperation with OECD and the intention to be invited to become one of its members. It is for these reasons that it is now the right time to invest in Argentina.