That was fast. President-elect Mauricio Macri has yet to formally assume the presidency but already met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia this morning. In his first international tour, he is set to travel to São Paulo this afternoon and later to Chile this evening to meet with President Michelle Bachelet.
Macri has placed bilateral relations with Brazil at the forefront of his foreign policy agenda, defining the link as playing a “strategic role” for Argentina.
The main focus of the meeting was commercial: “relaunching” bilateral relations between the countries was key to the meeting, as the current import barriers on Brazilian products persist.
“There is a strong will to improve relations. Both of our countries are suffering from recession,” Macri said.
The future of South American trade bloc Mercosur and the unfruitful attempts to strike a deal with the European Union (EU) were another big issue. According to Macri, both countries were “committed to bring back the dynamic in Mercosur,” as he had mentioned in his first press conference in Argentina.
When asked about his previous declarations on pushing for Venezuela to be barred from Mercosur, a position that is not shared by Brazil, Macri simply said that, “we confirmed our position.” He made no mention of Rousseff’s impeachment process: not surprising, really, given that it’s probably not the best diplomatic material and much less on his first visit.
There were apparently no hard feelings over Rousseff appearing in a photo with Macri’s former rival in the presidential race, Daniel Scioli, when the polls indicated that he would win.
After meeting with Rousseff, Macri will go on to have lunch with prominent businessmen in Sao Paolo from the Industrial Federation of Sao Paolo (Fiesp), who trade directly with Argentina. Later he’ll be flying to Chile to meet President Michelle Bachelet.