On the sidelines of the upcoming G20 summit, Argentine and French Presidents Mauricio Macri and Emmanuel Macron held a joint press conference today, in which they addressed issues such as: the future of the countries’ bilateral relations, the presence of Saudi crown prince Mohamed Bin Salman at the summit, and the hurdles that still need to be cleared in order to sign the long-negotiated free trade agreement between the Mercosur trading bloc and the European Union.
Here are the most relevant statements the presidents provided with regards to each key issue.
Mercosur-EU Free Trade Agreement
Macri: “We believe that because of our cultural, political and historical affinity, we will be able to reach an agreement. It is long overdue. I hope we will be able to give it the final push.”
Macron: “At the beginning of the year, we had great conversations with Macri to see how to move forward with agreements that could further integrate our economies and ensure both would progress.”
“We were able to compromise, taking into account the sensibility of our agricultural sectors.”
“There has been a geopolitical shift in Brazil. They need to adapt to the Paris agreement. I cannot sign wide-ranging commercial with powers who don’t respect the Paris agreement. It puts me in a position where i have to ask my economic actors to make an effort an adapt [to the agreement], but on the other side I sign agreements with countries who wouldn’t.”
Macron was making reference to the fact that Brazil’s incumbent President, Jair Bolsonaro, has made no secret of his desire to open up the Amazon to mining, farming and dam building. Bolsonaro had threatened to quit the Paris climate agreement, but backtracked. However, Brazil abandoned on Tuesday plans to host crucial UN climate talks in 2019. Bolsonaro’s future Foreign Minister, Néstor Araujo claims “climate alarmism” is part of a cultural Marxist plot.
“Regardless, we want to move forward with Argentina, which has a very clear course of action around which we can build a future of mutual benefit.”
Argentine-French Bilateral Relations
Macron:”Our bilateral relation is key. Argentina is France’s third partner in Latin America, but we can do better. France has supported Argentina through the IMF and we ratify our support to the reforms that are being implemented. I consider that it is essential to continue going down this path.”
“The relation encompasses many sectors. We went through many of them and our ministers are continuing with topics such as defense, renewable energies, transport and education. We want for this advances to happen as a result of concrete initiatives: we want to establish a bilateral economic forum that makes it easier for companies – especially medium-sized ones – to engage in crossed investment, especially in the touristic and agribusiness sectors.”
Macri: “We are happy to be able to work together. We agree on the challenges of the future of work, the technological revolution and the need to strongly bet on small and medium-sized businesses, as well as start-ups and entrepreneurs. We want to organize meetings in Buenos Aires and Paris so actors from both countries connect and find areas of cooperation.”
Macri: “We want to thank France’s tremendous support in the IMF agreement. Thanks to the agreement, we were able to overcome problems we had throughout the year.”
Macron: “Argentina has France’s unambiguous support.”
The Presence of Saudi Prince Mohamed Bin Salman in the G20
Macron: “I was always clear about it: I will be able to talk to him on the sidelines of the G20. We will also talk about it among European leaders. The Kashoggi case is serious. I want the truth to come out, and for investigations to continue so the situation is clarified, both for his family and the international community. I respect individual rights and the presumption of innocence, I am in favor of transparency.”
“As for the situation in Yemen: I want to find a political solution to it as quickly as possible. As I always said, we want to accelerate humanitarian initiatives. Our goal is for this to end as soon as possible.”
Multilateralism in the Era of Protectionism
Macri: “Argentina has tried isolationism and it clearly did not work. We have higher poverty rates than 30 or 50 years ago. We were able to make progress with several agreements, despite the US’s policies.”