President Mauricio Macri wrapped up his short but jam-packed visit to the United States yesterday and, judging by what he told press, he seems pretty happy with the results. He assured the press that he received strong support not only from his American counterpart, Donald Trump, but also from other political and business leaders in the country, especially in the sectors that Macri cares about the most: getting investments.
“There’s a climate like there has never been. The American government is telling its private sector that Argentina is a reliable country to invest [in],” said Macri when speaking to press before returning to Buenos Aires last night.
The president went on to confirm that his delegation moved forward towards getting the U.S. to open its doors to certain Argentine products such as lemons, bio diesel and meat. “I’m going to talk to him about North Korea and he will talk to me about lemons,” said Trump before the meeting, clearly illustrating that Macri intended to prioritize the commercial aspect of the country’s relations.
It would seem that if they didn’t accomplish their goal, at least they got pretty close: according to La Nación, government representatives said that there was a commitment to allow the entry of lemons to the country.
As for the bio diesel issue, Macri explained Trump that Argentina is not subsidizing its production and that it is not particpating in dumping practices — as American oil producers claimed — and is the reason for the country’s refusal to letting the product in.
A member of the delegation highlighted that during the work lunch, upon every issue brought up by Macri, Trump would emphatically ask the present members of his cabinet to “solve this matters with our partner in the region as soon as possible.”
“I never felt the ‘America First’ motto,” added Macri.
Another issue both delegation discussed was the crisis in Venezuela. Both in the lunch and during the meetings with House and Senate representatives in the Capitol, Macri was requested to lead the international community in its effort to get the Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, to set a date for elections, guarantee the separation of powers and release all political prisoners.
Even before yesterday’s requests, Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra had spearheaded an initiative by numerous countries members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to have its most important body, the Permanent Council, discuss the country’s situation in an extraordinary meeting.
The effective call for the session was what prompted Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodríguez, to announce this week that the country would initiate the process to withdraw from the organization, leaving more than a few not so nice words for Malcorra in the process.
Macri told the press that he intends to continue applying pressure by holding meetings in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) and the United Nations, where Malcorra will be today.
The last relevant aspect of the meeting was the Trump’s administration’s decision to declassify part of the country’s documents containing evidence of human rights violations committed in the country during the dictatorship. Former President Barack Obama made the same decision following his state visit to the country in March last year.
Macri continued his visit with a trip to the Capitol, where he met with the main Democrat and Republican leaders in both chambers in Congress. The larger part of the talks’ content wasn’t disclosed. All what Macri said about it was that the representatives and senators asked him about Venezuela and the investigations of the claims and the death of late prosecutor Alberto Nisman. “My answer was that the Judiciary is independent and that I can’t tell them when they [the investigations] will be over.”
As for his contact with the American business world, Macri took part in a dinner organized by the American Business Chamber. Before CEOs and representatives of American companies that have operations in Argentina, Macri reiterated his request for them to further invest in Argentina. The conclusion of the trip seems to be that the groundwork for a better trade and political relationship with the U.S has been set. Now we have to see if all the promises made become a reality.