Photo via Presidencia

President Mauricio Macri had today the most high-profile event of his schedule in the alpine town of Davos, addressing the plenary of the World Economic Forum as chair of the G20 and taking questions from Børge Brende, President and member of the WEF’s managing board.

In his speech, Macri gave a rundown of the country’s main goals in its agenda as chair of the G20, emphasized on the achievements of his administration, arguing the country will continue going down a path of growth as there are causes to be optimistic, and highlighted that mining, energy and tourism are the sectors that provide the best opportunities to invest.

He also seized the opportunity of standing on the world stage to send a not-so-veiled message to French President Emmanuel Macron – to whom he will pay a state visit tomorrow – by hinting his country was the only thing preventing the Mercosur and the European Union from reaching a trade agreement. Macri said he expected to get good news from him as “a little bird” had told him the main obstacles always “concern agriculture” and all indicators “point at France being behind it.”

When listing the reasons why the South American trading bloc is an ideal partner for the EU, the President proceeded to stick his foot in his mouth, assuring “all South Americans descend from the Europeans.” Which, of course, no.

Concerning the first item of the address, Macri said Argentina will bring a voice from the south to its leadership of the G20. It will focus on three areas: the future of work, infrastructure for development, and a sustainable future in terms of food.

Assuring the leadership is one of the biggest challenges in the history of Argentina, the President focused on the of food security, saying it is a major challenge to bring responsible land management techniques to the top of the agenda, and use the soil as a strategic resource.

As for the future of work, he said the world must prioritize increasing inclusive growth and train our kids for jobs that don’t yet exist. “Life-long learning is key to this, as we constantly develop our skills.” dijo.

Macri went on to highlight his administration’s achievements and mark a contrast with the former government, assuring “Argentina has left the populist experiment behind,” and that, “after being isolated from the world for decades, the country managed to avoid an economic crisis and enter a new era.”

Photo via Presidencia
Photo via Presidencia

“The Argentine economy is growing. Inflation reached its lowest level in a decade. Salaries are recovering and poverty and unemployment are being reduced. Argentina has entered a new era and can fulfill a significant role in the world stage,” he added.

Encouraging attendees to invest in the country, Macri said “no other country has larger potential than Argentina” when it comes to “solar power, hydrocarbon reserves and non-conventional energy.”

In what seemed to be a statement aimed at the local audience, he then threw a jab at unions, currently at the forefront of the political conversation due to the legal trouble several high-profile leaders are going through, as well as the upcoming wage negotiation season. “We must convince unions to be a part the change. We have to prepare our children for jobs that don’t yet exist. This is a new world,” he said.

When consulted about Venezuela’s present and the possibility about the Caribbean country undergoing changes in the near future, Macri said he is “not optimistic at all,” as “Venezuela is not a democracy” and “human rights are not respected.” “Unfortunately, Venezuelan citizens are suffering a lot, they are going through a sanitary crisis,” Macri argued.

Moves by Venezuelan authorities to bring presidential elections expected to take place in the final quarter of 2018 forward have been met with  rejections from the so-called Lima Group – of which Argentina is part of -and added to the existing tensions in the dialogue between the opposition and government.