President-elect Alberto Fernández says he agrees with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and that the two nations should aspire to “pragmatic ties” regarding the Mercosur trade bloc, beyond ideological differences.
“I saw, with happiness, that the Brazilian president [Jair Bolsonaro] today proposed having pragmatic ties in Mercosur. This is what we have to do because Mercosur will outlast Bolsonaro and Alberto Fernández,” he said.
The Peronist leader, who will assume office on 10 December, supported the idea of “deepening Mercosur” he said, as he gave a speech at the 25th Conference of the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA).
Fernández followed Miguel Acevedo, the head of the entity, who in the last few weeks has been locked in conversation with his counterparts in Brazil in hopes of deepening relations between the neighbouring countries.
“The fact that Mercosur now has presidents that think differently doesn’t take away from the importance of Mercosur. No personal dispute that I could have will make me put Argentina in a vulnerable place,” said Fernández, with his words greeted with applause from conference attendees.
Despite campaign tensions between both parties, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said at a separate conference this week that Brazil has “no problem” with Fernández.
Coming off the high of signing a historic trade deal with the European Union, both regional leaders have put their differences aside.
“Our relationship with Argentina will be very pragmatic. We have good commercial relations with Argentina and if it’s up to me, they’ll continue,” said Bolsonaro on Wednesday.
As per the regional bloc, Fernández affirmed that “it is the unity of the people: it is Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, with Bolivia and Chile as observing members, to build a common market that will allow us to confront the challenge of globalisation.”
In another moment of his speech, he referred to the need to reinvigorate the off-colour Argentine economy with a push to local industry.
He warned that this shouldn’t be interpreted as a wish to “live with closed doors” or to “stop imports.”
“I want everyone to understand that I won’t bring t-shirts from China, shoes from Brazil or China, jeans from abroad or bicycles from Korea, all so that our producers continue falling. That is not a closed economy, it’s being smart,” he affirmed.