In a world focused on closing off its borders, President Mauricio Macri and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau appeared to stand committed to working towards cooperation in trade, sustainable (emphasis on sustainable) mining, climate change, education and border control. Both heads of state addressed these issues in a press conference following their bilateral meeting on Thursday.
“We have talked about the importance of believing that both countries’ entrepreneurial spirit can be combined to increase trade, investment, quality employment, with a strong emphasis on small and medium-sized businesses, which are the ones called to create the largest amount of new jobs in the future,” began Macri.
Macri went on to point out that the Argentine and Canadian economies complement each other and highlighted that both nations are “united by the expectation to carry our people towards growth and development, based on democracy, human rights, gender equality and transparency.”
With not-so-subtle references to Donald Trump’s victory in the US elections and the protectionist policies he’s planning on taking to the White House, Trudeau highlighted that world leaders such as Macri and himself will “keep on promoting trade between both countries because it’s the way to help the middle class and small and medium-sized businesses.”
“It’s necessary to acknowledge the anxiety that can lead to nationalism and populism in some places. But we must use this anxiety in a positive way to ensure people that we can create economic opportunities for all citizens,” added the Canadian Prime Minister.
Both heads of state were then specifically consulted about Trump and the destiny of international trade, to which Macri said that at least in the case of Argentina and Canada, they intend to increase their commercial exchange: “the last [US] elections would prove a trend that goes the other way. But today I reiterate that, coming from an Argentina that has been isolated from the world for a decade, I believe we can enrich from exchange.”
— Mauricio Macri (@mauriciomacri) November 17, 2016
In another part of the press conference, Macri and Trudeau went over mining activity in the country, an activity over which Canada and the country’s companies have strong interests, though markedly spotted track record. The Argentine president highlighted the “great respect for what Canada has done about the development of mining resources with a perfect respect for the environment.” “We believe that if we work together, Argentina is one of the countries with the largest potential in sustainable mining,” he added.
However, a large part of this respect Macri was talking about wasn’t brought to the country by the Canada-based companies that have their operations in Argentine soil such as Barrick Gold, responsible for the massive cyanide spill affecting rivers in San Juan that represented the largest catastrophe of the kind in the republic’s history.
When consulted about the company’s actions and previous business practices, however, Trudeau gave the typical well-intended diplomatic answer: “We are worried. We worry every time there’s an accident or a problem. However, we are completely committed to cooperate with local and national authorities to prove we are responsible actors in the world.”