Dilma Rousseff, the new president of Brazil, will arrive in Argentina this Monday on her first foreign trip as chief of state. The trip is aimed at confirming that the Brazilian government’s foreign policy will prioritize South-South relations and relations with neighboring countries.
In Buenos Aires, Rousseff will hold talks with her Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, to discuss expanding cooperation in the fields of electricity, nuclear energy, social development projects, digital technology and mining.
Dilma Rousseff, described as “strategic” the relationship with Argentina and stated that she will look for establishing an “extremely close” ties with her counterpart de Kirchner.
“The Brazilian government assumes, once again, a true commitment with the Argentine government as well a joint policy intended to promote a development strategy for the region. For me the main idea is that of a strategic relationship with Argentina, which should shine itself in all areas of interest of both countries,” said Rousseff in conversations with local newspapers before arriving in Buenos Aires.
In this context, Rousseff remarked that Brazil is aiming to “have a very strong policy in terms of creating and developing suppliers for the exploration and exploitation of oil within the region.”
“I’d like to have an extremely close relationship with President Kirchner,” said the successor to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and then explained: “I would firstly because Brazil and Argentina are countries that have major responsibilities before the whole of Latin America in terms to provide our region with an increasingly international stage presence.”
Antonio Simões, Brazil’s general undersecretary for South and Central America, said the Rousseff visit would represent a third stage of the Brazil-Argentina relationship since the two countries emerged from military regimes more than two decades ago.
“In early phases we worked on strategic political questions and economic integration through Mercosur,” Simões said in a briefing on the visit. “In this phase we’ll begin more work on social questions such as cross-border integration.”
Simões said, meanwhile, that key economic matters would also be on the agenda, in an effort to keep stimulating growing trade between the countries.
Among those, he said, were accords on developing experimental nuclear research reactors in both countries, the joint construction of a hydroelectric facility on the country’s common border, and cooperation in housing development programs and biofuels.
In addition to those accords, Simões said the countries planned to sign an agreement for joint promotion of their exports in third-party countries.
But while trade between the neighboring countries has grown tenfold in the last two decades to US$ 33 billion last year, the two Mercosur trade bloc leaders may face some friction on the matter of bilateral commerce.
A particularly thorny issue could be the current US$ 4 billion annual trade surplus that Brazil runs with Argentina. That figure widened from only $250 million the previous year.
Simões, however, discarded the possibility that trade disputes would arise from the imbalance.
“This is a matter that we need to address through the highest common denominators,” he said. “We need to generate more bilateral trade, which is in everybody’s interest.”
Brazil, he said, could help to address the difference with investments, such as the construction of a phosphate fertilizer facility currently under progress in Argentina by Brazilian mining giant Vale.
“This project alone will generate very large purchases by Brazil,” he said.
Rousseff’s entourage will include her top aides in charge of economic, social development, energy, technology and foreign affairs.
Following the visit to Argentina, Rousseff is scheduled to visit Peru in February and Paraguay and Uruguay in March.