As the world’s main heads of state make their way to Argentina for the G20 Leaders Summit, a national survey from the Argentina Pulse, the joint enterprise between Poliarquía Consultancy and the Wilson Center’s Argentina Project, illustrates that Argentines hold a more positive vision of Russia and China than the United States.
Japan and Germany were the best ranked countries among the 1,009 people consulted, with 82 and 80 percent positive image, respectively. Russia was just behind, with a 79 percent positive image and only 11 percent negative. With respect to the world’s two largest powers, the survey showed that while both have a widely positive image, 72 percent of Argentines hold a positive view of China, compared to only 60 percent for the United States.
However, the study goes on to inform that, in the past months, both countries saw their image deteriorate, la deepened trade war between them being a potential factor. “Approval of China went down nine percentage points, and the U.S. approval rating went down seven percentage points.,” the Argentina Pulse indicates.
Moreover, support for the United States is highly concentrated among supporters of Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, whereas China’s favorability is nonpartisan.
The survey also posed the question about whether Argentina should have a proactive role in the global stage. The answer was generally positive, although there was a stark contrast between those who support Macri, and those who don’t. In the first case, an overwhelming 78 percent agreed with the premise, while the number, although still positive, dropped to 55 between those who disapprove of the President.
The results showed that the latter group have, in general, a more negative vision of all countries included in the survey, with the United States and Brazil showing the largest differences. 75 precent of Macri supporters approve of the former, against a 52 percent between his detractors, while the numbers clocked in at 65 and 48 when it comes to Brazil. It is worth mentioning that the survey was conducted in November, after right-wing politician Jair Bolsonaro was elected President of the neighboring country.
When it comes to China and Russia, most approve of both, regardless of their domestic political leanings.
The general figures seem to go in line with the Macri administration’s approach towards foreign policy, and its goal of “returning to the global stage.” Chairing the G20, as well as organizing the 2017 WTO summit, and the attempt to open the Argentine economy to expanded multilateral trade are some examples.
Although hampered by its economic woes, the government has a number of achievements to show for its good relations with the world’s two largest powers. Ever since December 2015, the US opened its doors to Argentine lemons, exempted the country from paying tariffs on aluminum and steel exports – although to a certain extent, considering a quota was imposed – and now to Argentine beef, following a 17-year-long hiatus. And that without mentioning the role the US played in the International Monetary Fund’s executive board at the time of approving this year’s two bailout packages for Argentina, which amount to a total of US $56.3 billion.
However, displeasure with President Trump – and perhaps the historical negative vision many Argentines hold of the US, especially due to its involvement in the last dictatorship – seems to be a large factor in the overall view Argentines have of the United States. 59 percent of Argentines hold a negative image of Mr. Trump, compared to only 17 percent who see his Chinese counterpart in a negative light.
“China has won over the region through billions of dollars in infrastructure loans. In Buenos Aires, Mr. Xi is expected to announce a multibillion dollar increase in Beijing’s credit line for Argentina’s cash-starved government,” the survey points out.
“Argentina is a major battleground in the U.S. fight against China for influence in Latin America,” Benjamin Gedan, the director of the Wilson Center’s Argentina Project and a former South America director on the National Security Council, said.
As for the upcoming G20 summit, the survey notes that “only three out of every ten Argentines admit to have heard of the summit and know what it is about.” “Of the remaining seven, for have hard about the summit, but don’t know what it is about, while the rest did not hear about it at all,” the report adds.
Moreover, 47 percent of the people surveyed agreed with the premise that hosting the G20 will benefit the country. The number, however, increases to a staggering 81 among Macri supporters. In contrast, another 47 percent argued the summit will not bring any positive effects, with the number increasing to 64 percent between Macri detractors.