Happy to be here and eating medialunas. Photo via Infobae.

French President François Hollande will begin his historic two-day visit to Argentina this afternoon at 3:30 PM, in what Macri’s administration allegedly hopes will be an overture for talks concerning free trade agreements between Mercosur and the European Union.

Hollande has come to the country in what can only be described as a show of extreme brotherhood and an extension of friendship. He told the press, “My visit… marks a new phase of relations between France and Argentina. The same year in which Argentina celebrates the Bicentennial of its Independence. Argentina is a sister Republic of the French Republic. She was inspired by the spirit of the enlightenment… But my visit is strongly skewed toward the future.” Chamuyero por favor, don’t stop. 

The two heads of state have a full agenda of items to discuss: 22 bilateral agreements are set to be signed with topics ranging from climate change and drug trafficking to terrorism and trade. However, the excitement is quietly focused on the possibility of re-opening discussions of a free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur.

Mercosur is a regional trade bloc established in 1991 with member states Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela focusing mainly on economic measures to promote free trade and market union.

Macri insiders have said, “Hollande represents a central key to unlock an agreement between the European Union and Mercosur. Macri knows it very well, so he will seek a breakthrough in this aspect.”  

As for his part, Hollande has acknowledged the buzz, stating, “250 French companies are installed in Argentina, in all the strategic sectors: automotive, energy, food, distribution, high technology, tourism, health. We are ready to make the contribution to the success of the projects that Argentina wants to launch. In this respect, the search for a trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur is important.”

This marks the first time in 19 years that a high-ranking French official comes to Argentina. The last visit occurred in 1997 when former President Jacques Chirac came to eat croissants visit then President Carlos Menem. But Hollande’s trip is notable not just for its historic significance but for the overtures he is making. The President brings with him in his entourage several notable French citizens with Argentine ties, like painter Antonio Seguí, footballer David Trezeguet and theater director Alfredo Arias.

The official schedule is as follows:

Wednesday

  • 3:30 PM Ceremony at Plaza San Martin
  • 4:00 PM Adjourn to Government House
  • 5:00 PM Issue a joint statement from the Salon Blanco
  • 9:00 PM Honorary Dinner in the Museum of the Bicentenary of the House of Government for Hollande and his delegation

Thursday

  • 8:45 AM Memorial Park with the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo
  • 9:25 AM Visit to the Science and Technology Center of Palermo
  • 11:00 AM Visit to La Bombonera
  • 11:55 AM Meeting with French and Argentine cultural personalities
  • 12:45 PM Lunch with prominent members of the business community before departing for Uruguay