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Breaking relations with Brazil and China, Milei’s most recent controversy (and the effects it would have on Argentina)

If something has been proposed javier milei in his search for the presidency of Argentina is, without a doubt, not to leave anyone indifferent. Last Sunday, the libertarian candidate surprised by positioning himself as the winner of the STEP 2023 and now it is back in the news due to some explosive statements that could jeopardize the ties between Argentina and its two main trading partners.

LOOK: What are the most radical proposals of Javier Milei, the most voted candidate in the primaries of Argentina

They will be commercial partners of the private sector. We do not make pacts with communists (…) I would not promote relations with communists, nor with Venezuela, nor with Cuba, nor with Nicaragua, nor with China”, Milei assured the Bloomberg agency in an extensive interview where she also assured that Mercosur has become a “faulty customs union” that he plans to dissolve in an eventual government.

Regarding Brazil, he slipped the option of freezing ties, some statements that bring to mind the words he had in May about the president of the South American giant, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whom he described as “wild lefty supporting dictators, guys who violate human rights, autocrats with their hands stained with blood”.

It is all very nebulous within the statements of Javier Milei. He separates the private sector from the public, he says that he has no problem with the private sector maintaining commercial relations with said governments but that the State would not. The nebulousness of his response suggests that in reality the State would not establish itself as a benchmark for commercial relations. And that is false, because the State is always in some way regulating commercial relations.”, he comments to Trade Argentine political scientist Santiago Rodríguez Rey.

As for China, the leading economist explained in the interview with Bloomberg that the decision was made because in that country “people are not free, they cannot do what they want. And when they do what they want, they kill them”.

The statements of the candidate who currently has the highest voting intention in Argentina undoubtedly echoed both in Beijing and in Brasilia.

In the Chinese case, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said on Friday the 18th that “under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party”, your country has achieved “two great miracles: rapid economic development and long-term social stability”. In addition, the diplomat invited Milei to visit the Asian giant to observe reality. “If Mr. Milei visits China and experiences it for himself, he is likely to come to very different conclusions on the issue of the freedom and security of the Chinese people,” Wenbin said.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, spoke about Javier Milei’s statements. (GREG BAKER /)

There was no formal response from the Brazilian side, but the Argentine media assured that they would have generated strong discomfort within the Lula government.

The statements by the leader of the La Libertad Avanza coalition are especially serious if we consider that they are talking about Argentina’s two main trading partners. According to the latest report from the Argentine Ministry of Economy, presented in June this year, exports to Brazil represent an income of 922 million dollars for the country, while imports are estimated at 1,985 million dollars.

In the Chinese case, the figure is 475 million dollars and 1,269 million dollars respectively. In addition, it should be noted that Argentina is adhering to the Belt and Road agreement, Xi Jinping’s ambitious plan with which he seeks to turn China into the main world economy.

The commercial relationship with Brazil is super important, it is our main commercial partner within Mercosur, where the largest amount of Argentine industrial exports goes. The same thing happens with China, especially in our agricultural and livestock exports. Insinuating that Argentina would lose those trading partners would be disastrous.”, points out Rodríguez Rey.

Rodríguez Rey assures that Brazil has become a fundamental complement to the very important Argentine soybean industry.

Rodríguez Rey assures that Brazil has become a fundamental complement to the very important Argentine soybean industry.

What is interesting about this type of interview that the candidate gives is that he says what he would not do or would not do, but he should explain how he would replace Brazil, which is Argentina’s first trading partner, or China, which is the second. Relations with both countries are key and in many cases pragmatic, I say this mainly because it was not replaced even during the government of Mauricio Macri and if one listens to the candidate of Together for Change, Patricia Bullrich, she says that relations must be maintained more pragmatic, removing the ideological component but recognizing the importance of the commercial link”, comments the journalist specialized in international relations Ariadna Dácil Lanza.

The communicator, who has also specialized in relations between her country and Brazil, highlights that the South American giant not only plays a key role as a trade partner but also a diplomat, so the dissolution of Mercosur would be equally detrimental for Buenos Aires.

Mercosur is the main bloc that makes up Argentina, not only for those who make up the bloc itself, but it is also the way in which our country has chosen to interact with the world since the return to democracy. Argentina has maintained a position, despite the fact that during the Macri government the bloc was questioned a lot, which is to maintain relations with the world through Mercosur. It is an instance of key articulation. And being the main member, Brazil is not only a commercial ally but also a very important diplomatic one.”, explains Dácil Lanza.

Aware of what these statements could cause in an eventual victory, members of Milei’s entourage have tried to tone down her words and ratify them.

Such was the case of the economist Diana Mondino, named as chancellor in an eventual libertarian government, who laughingly assured that Milei is a “mouthy”. “What we are not going to accept is signing agreements that are transparent, dark, based on secrecy, like the ones (Sergio) Massa negotiated on his last trip”, said the economist, alluding to the ruling party candidate who, after PASO 2023, appears as the third option.

This, however, is not the first time that someone from Milei’s team has to go out to put out a fire started by the impulsive candidate.

After taking first place on Sunday, his answers on all the topics in which he had offered some kind of precision have been changing. Part of his economic and education team has begun to appear in the media to say that the 15% adjustment to GDP that he had promised will now be 5%, which is almost in line with what the IMF is asking for. Dollarization would no longer be immediate, nor would education reforms be second or third generation. What was a promise of a solution is now in the very long term, he speaks of periods of 30 years. In other words, many of the statements with which she has won the favor of the voter who has been disappointed by the last two coalitions that have governed have been changing.”, Rodríguez Rey points out in this regard.

When one gets closer to the possibility of forming a government, they have to lower their slogans to government plans. Until Sunday the 13th, no survey gave a scenario with Milei first after the STEP. Faced with this scenario, the slogans must become more specific. So, some referents of La Libertad Avanza have begun to recognize that many slogans cannot be made immediately”, explains Dácil Lanza.

What was mentioned by both experts clearly shapes the behavior of a populist candidate. “Clearly Javier Milei is a right-wing populist, by any definition”, confirms Rodríguez. However, the political scientist points out that this would not necessarily impact the final vote for Milei during the October elections.

It is very unlikely (that their intention to vote for these statements will be reduced) because such a fine reading of their statements is made by those of us who follow the issue very precisely. He would have to make some very serious mistakes for this to affect those who voted for him. In that 30% that voted for Javier Milei in the PASO 2023, there is a large majority that is disappointed by the two groups that governed before and wonders why not vote for this option”, explains Rodríguez Rey.

Source: Elcomercio

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