Photo via Telam

President Mauricio Macri met with his Brazilian counterpart Michel Temer in the Palácio do Planalto in Brasília today, in what was Macri’s first state visit to the country. A hefty delegation made up of ministers, provincial governors and diplomats joined Macri on the trip. Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña, Foreign and Production Ministers Susana Malcorra and Francisco Cabrera, and Córdoba and Misiones Governors Juan Schiaretti and Hugo Passalacqua among them.

As for the main talking points, both heads of state discussed the possibility of kicking off a process to eliminate existing trade barriers between the two countries, revitalizing a sluggish Mercosur trading bloc by boosting its relationship with other trading blocs and markets.

“The state visit is taking place at a special moment where bilateral connections and will allow both of our countries to move forward with important initiatives in diverse areas, such as trade and investment, border security, integration, border development, science and technology, and defense,” Brazilian Foreign Minister José Serra said in a press release issued yesterday night.

After the meeting, Macri and Temer delivered a joint statement to the press: “We want to create a common agenda,” said Macri.

According to La Nación, both countries feel confident that the fact that Argentina and Brazil will lead the Mercosur throughout the year — Argentina holds the rotating presidency during the first semester, Brazil during the second — will help them reach these goals.

“Macri and Temer will sign a sort of road-map with guiding principles to solve the pending issues that have made trade more difficult during the past two decades. Among the conflicting matters that need to be solved in the short and medium term are Argentine imports of Brazilian sugar and ethanol and the Argentine auto part supply system, which is seen by the Brazilians as highly protectionist,” the outlet explains.

Photo via Telam
Photo via Telam

Aside from the economic relationship between both countries in particular, increasing trade with other blocs and countries appears to be another major goal. The Mercosur has been working  on a free trade agreement with the European Union for years now. Argentina and Brazil are especially eager to make this happen this year. But the idea is to also begin talks with Canada, Japan and South Korea, as well as improving coordination with the countries in the Pacific Alliance bloc. Argentina was accepted as an observing member of this bloc in June of last year, a sign of many saw as Macri’s intention to boost its relationship with Mercosur.

Delegations from both countries will share a late lunch before the Argentine representatives come back home in the afternoon.

Let’s hope a mutually beneficial trade agreement is on the menu.