Argentina and Brazil made significant advances in outstanding bilateral trade issues following a joint meeting between top policy makers from both countries, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters.
The meeting, in Brazil’s industrial hub of São Paulo, was jointly chaired by Mantega and Argentine Economy Minister Amado Boudou.
The two ministers announced the creation of a US$ 100 million fund to offer financing to Argentine companies engaged in trade with Brazil. Financing will come from government agencies of both countries.
Creation of the fund came on recognition that Argentina frequently has been at a disadvantage in its trade with Brazil, in part because the size of the Brazilian economy has permitted more economies of scale for Brazilian companies.
Argentina is Brazil’s third-largest trading partner behind China and the US. In the first five months of 2010, Brazil posted a trade surplus of US$ 442 million with Argentina. Brazil is Argentina’s main trade partner.
Both tariff and non-tariff barriers have been a point of tension between the two countries. In recent weeks, Brazilian exporters have complained about possible barriers to some products exported to Argentina, including food products and some manufactured goods.
Argentine importers said the barriers were very real, but have been easing lately. The Argentine government eased restrictions after the importers agreed earlier this month to use local currencies for all transactions, rather than dollars or euros, as has long been the practice.
“The situation is normalizing” now, but the informal and arbitrary way that imports had been shut down is worrying, said Miguel Ponce, the spokesman for the Argentine importers’ chamber Cira. Argentine officials used bureaucratic snafus at the food import certification agency to stall the cargos, Ponce said.
Last week’s meeting was designed, in part, to defuse bilateral tensions regarding such rumors.
Boudou said: “From time to time, there are some problems in our trade relations, but we are working to remove them.”
Brazilian Trade and Development Minister Miguel Jorge said: “We advanced on the trade issues at today’s meeting. The remaining issues are very small”. But ministers declined to discuss details of the discussions.
Boudou said increasing bilateral trade was critical “in helping both countries to surmount crises, such as the recent global crisis.”
Jorge said officials of both countries were especially interested in boosting trade in the areas of oil and gas, auto parts, aviation equipment and farm equipment.