President Mauricio Macri will make a return to the World Economic Forum in Davos after skipping it last year. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)

President Mauricio Macri’s first international trip of 2018 starts this Sunday evening with a trip to Moscow, which will be followed up with a stopover in Davos for the World Economic Forum and a tête à tête with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

The trip will include a series of meetings with world leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset. Meetings with leaders of global corporations like Coca-Cola, Gazprom, Microsoft, Facebook and Total will feature on the trip that will come to an end on January 27th after a meeting with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Macri’s official agenda in Russia will begin on Tuesday morning with a working breakfast with Russian business giants like Biocad (Biotech), Gazprom (Energy), Gazprombank (Banking), Phosagro (Agrochemicals), Rosatom (Nuclear Energy), Sinara (Investments), Uralkali (Fertilizers), y Vnesheconombank (Development Bank). An agenda distributed by the Argentine Presidency notes that Lukoil (Oil), Mail.Ru (Internet), Russian Railways, Vtb Bank Grou, Yandex (Internet), Russian Copper Co., Transmashholding (Railway), y Softline (Information Technology) will also be represented at the meeting.

After laying a wreath at the Tomb of  the Unknown Soldier, Macri will meet with Putin in the Kremlin. Macri will be joined by Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, Strategic Affairs Secretary Fulvio Pompeo and Argentine Ambassador to Russia Ricardo Lagorio. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov and Sergey Dankvert, head of the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance. Dankvert’s portfolio related to the controls on imports of agricultural goods, a key interest for Buenos Aires.

The last time that Macri and Putin met was in September 2016, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. They have spoken on the phone since, particularly when the Russian Federation offered assistance in the search for the ARA San Juan. The Kremlin said in a statement that “the two leaders will discuss the further development of comprehensive Russian-Argentinean partnership in politics, trade and the economy and in the cultural and humanitarian spheres, as well as exchange opinions on current international issues.”

The last time Putin and Macri met was in September 2016 at the G20 summit inHangzhou, China. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)
The last time Putin and Macri met was in September 2016 at the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)

The meeting between Macri and Putin comes at a time when Russia continues to with the search for the ARA San Juan with a ship and submersibles able to image the ocean floor.

An analysis by the Argentine Chamber of Trade and Services (CAC) of bilateral trade between Russia and Argentina shows that in first 11 months of 2017, Argentina exported US$ 480 million – five percent more in comparison to the same period in the year before. The single biggest exports are pears (11.7 percent of the total) and lemons (8.7 percent).

In the same period Russian exports to Argentina amounted to US $326 million, 16 percent less than in the previous period. Just under half (47.3 percent) of the total imports were diesel.

As such Argentina’s trade surplus through the first 11 months of 2016 of US $67 million increased to US $153 million in the same period of 2017. The trade volume of just over US$800 million for 2017 is down on US $884 million in 2016 and the high of US $2.44 billion in 2013.

ON TO DAVOS AND PARIS

On Wednesday of next week Macri will make his return to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland after skipping it last year. In 2016 he came the first president in well over a decade to attend the World Economic Forum.

The president will host business and political leaders at Casa Argentina, a location especially prepared for the occasion. As such, Macri will host figures such as Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and executives from Temasek International, Total, Cargill, Coca-Cola and Lloyd’s.

After meetings with Rutte, Trudeau and Berset, Macri will address the plenary of the World Economic Forum as chair of the G20 an take questions at a press conference. Having completed another round of meetings with business and civil society leaders, the Argentine delegation will head to Paris with another set of meetings with French business leaders.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech in Calais, northern France, January 16, 2018. (Photo via Reuters / Benoit Tessier)
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech in Calais, northern France, January 16, 2018. (Photo via Reuters / Benoit Tessier)

In the afternoon a bilateral meeting has been scheduled with Macro at the Élysée with Macron. The meeting with Macron is the first since a July 2017 meeting during the G20 summit in Hamburg, and comes as discussions over the Mercosur – European Union free trade deal remain in limbo.

The former mayor of Buenos Aires will meet next Saturday with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, after which he will make his return to Buenos Aires on a commercial flight.