Economist Diana Mondino, who is set to be appointed foreign minister in Javier Milei’s government, has confirmed that Argentina will not join the BRICS on her new boss' watch.
Mondino, a La Libertad Avanza deputy-elect, said that Milei did not want to join the bloc comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. President Alberto Fernández’s administration, which is currently in office, has spent years attempting to win approval for Argentina to become a full member and earlier this year, BRICS authorities signed off on the move, though the ascension process is not complete.
“We’re not pulling back, because it was never approved,” said Mondino on Thursday as she was quizzed about Milei's intentions. Her statements came during a brief contact with the press minutes before taking part in the 29th Industrial Conference of the UIA Argentine Industrial Union.
Earlier this week, Mondino had already stated that “there was no relative advantage in joining BRICS” and that the inclusion in the group of states would be “reassessed” by the president-elect.
“It’s an open invitation, and as far as I know, Argentina has not accepted yet," she said at the time.
This is the view La Libertad Avanza has held since the beginning. After current Economy minister, Sergio Massa, announced the news, Milei had stated that he would not trade with “communist countries," referring to Russia, China and Brazil. The future foreign minister’s words come tight to the deadline – Argentina is scheduled to enter BRICS starting on January 1, 2024.
“Although those topics had already been anticipated, our concern is to stay open to multilateralism and try to take part in as many organisations which enable us to observe international law, human rights, and open international trade,” Mondino said Wednesday.
"To the best of my knowledge, I repeat, BRICS are more related to a political alignment than to any advantages for trade between countries. In fact, we already have diplomatic and trading relationships with most of its countries,” she complained.
The bloc was created in 2006 by Brazil, Russia, India and China under the name BRIC and they had their first summit in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg in 2009. The following year, South Africa joined the group, adding the “S” to the acronym. In their last official meeting, they accepted the inclusion of Iran and a host of other nations.
During the UIA conference on Thursday, which took place at the Buenos Aires Convention Centre, Mondino expressed the need for unilateral opening of international trade. “We have to simplify taxes urgently. We can’t keep having this great fiscal imbalance. We propose reducing expenditure to then do the same with taxes", she stated.
"If we can’t get a consensus in Congress it’ll be difficult,” she added, referring to the reduction in public expenditure proposed by Javier Milei, who will be inaugurated on December 10.
Lastly, she remarked that “from La Libertad Avanza” they want the Mercosur's free-trade agreement with the European Union signed, but she warned that it “will bring some concerns due to the regulations it imposes”, which “will take discretionality away from Argentina.”
“The doors opening up are monumental, and if when we take measures we expect everyone to be happy, nobody will be,” she concluded.