Well, there you have it.
Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro will reportedly take his first overseas trip to Chile, not Argentina, its main trading partner in the region. The decision was confirmed to Reuters by congressman Onyx Lorenzoni, who is set to be Bolsonaro’s Chief of Staff and is overseeing the transition of power in the country.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has flattered Bolsonaro’s economic plan, saying in an interview in Spain that “for what I’ve seen in terms of how he will face the issue of development in Brazil, I think he’s got the right focus.”
Piñera also said he felt “legitimate pride” over a comment from Bolsonaro, about wanting to “follow the Chilean model.” However, facing backlash for praising a candidate who has made repeated racist, xenophobic and sexist comments – to name a few – he clarified he also has “large discrepancies” with the president-elect “when it comes to behavior that it is homophobic, not respectful of women and shows little commitment with democracy.” Nonetheless, he reiterated that he “agreed in other matters, particularly when it comes to economic integration, modernization of the economy and recovery of fiscal balance.”
After Bolsonaro was proclaimed President, Piñera congratulated him for his “great victory” and invited him to visit the Andean country, saying he was sure they would “work with will, strength and vision in favor of the well-being of their people and integration.”
Felicito al pueblo brasileño por una limpia y democrática elección. Felicito a @jairbolsonaro por su gran triunfo electoral.Lo invito a visitar Chile y estoy seguro que trabajaremos con voluntad,fuerza y visión de futuro en favor del bienestar de nuestros pueblos y la integración
— Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera) October 28, 2018
The Argentine government, in contrast, has taken a more diplomatic, less effusive approach. President Macri also congratulated Bolsonaro, saying he wishes both will “soon work together” to strengthen the countries’ relationship “and the well-being of Argentines and Brazilians.” And after Bolsonaro called Macri last week, the Argentine Foreign Ministry indicated that they both had a “cordial conversation.”
There have been no talks about a first bilateral meeting between Macri and Bolsonaro yet, although some news sites have already speculated that it might take place on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit that will take place in Buenos Aires on November 30 and December 1.
It is still early to determine what are Bolsonaro’s intentions with regards to regional politics, but keeping – and strengthening the trade relation – is key for Argentina, as Brazil is by far its largest trading partner, even more so than China and the US. As for Brazil, Argentina is its third largest trading partner, while according to the website World’s Top Exports, Chile was not among the 15 countries to which Brazil exported its products.
Future Brazilian Economy Minister, Paulo Guedes, assured yesterday that the Mercosur will not be a priority for the country, as his administration will intend to “trade with the entire world.”