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ECONOMY | 09-04-2024 12:59

Argentina's President Javier Milei to meet Elon Musk at Tesla factory in Texas

After months of online flattery and praise, Argentina’s self-proclaimed “anarcho-capitalist” head of state will finally meet billionaire businessman Elon Musk in-person at Tesla’s factory in Austin, Texas.

After months of online flattery and praise, President Javier Milei will finally meet with billionaire businessman Elon Musk in the United States this week.

Milei, 53, is due to fly to Miami late Wednesday (April 9), where he will receive an award from a Jewish organisation. ​​

Altering his plans for a whistlestop visit to the United States, government sources have confirmed the Argentine head of state will extend his trip and stay until the weekend, ahead of a meeting in Texas with Musk, the tycoon behind SpaceX, Tesla and the X social network (formerly Twitter).

The meeting will take place this Saturday (April 13) at Tesla's factory in Austin, Texas, confirmed Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni.

"On April 13, a trip to Texas is planned to visit the Tesla factory and on that day [the president] will meet with Elon Musk," said the spokesman.

Local reporting suggests that Argentina's head of state is seeking investment from Musk in the automobile and communications industries.

Musk, one of the richest men on the planet, and Milei have shared several compliments via social media.

For his part, the Tesla chief executive officer posted Milei’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos from January, calling it a “good explanation of what makes countries more of less prosperous.” 

Milei has lauded Musk too. “I have no doubt that Elon Musk will be an active player and he will have a major role in the new Argentina that is leaving behind the decadence of 100 years of populism,” Milei said in an interview with Bloomberg last week.

Earlier this month, Musk's satellite Internet service provider, Starlink, began operating in Argentina.

The businessman predicted prosperity for Argentina back in November when Milei won the presidential run-off over ruling coalition candidate Sergio Massa. 

Musk has shared a number of posts about or that feature Milei, including the high-profile interview with Tucker Carlson that the Argentine recorded prior to the second-round vote.

One potential avenue for collaboration between the duo is lithium extraction.

Tesla recently began refining the battery metal in Texas. Lithium is an essential component of the batteries needed to power the firm's electric vehicles. 

Argentina is home to some of the world's largest lithium deposits, accounting for 21 percent of global reserves.

Days before the presidential inauguration last December, Milei acknowledged on social networks that he had had shared a “great conversation” with Musk.

“I thanked him for defending the ideas of freedom and for supporting our work, especially taking into account all of which he represents as an icon for freedom worldwide,” wrote Milei on X.

The head of state had previously hinted that Musk may travel to Buenos Aires for a meeting or a conference involving top tech minds.

Milei will depart the capital later this evening to travel to Miami. He will be joined by his sister, presidential chief-of-staff Karina Milei and Rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish and businessman Gerardo Werthein, who have been nominated to be Argentina’s ambassadors to Israel and the United States respectively.

While in Miami, he will be honoured as “an ambassador of light” by a Jewish organisation. 

The following day he will meet with Brazilian economist Ilan Goldfajn, the head of the Inter-American Development Bank and will deliver a speech at Florida International University that afternoon, according to a copy of his agenda shared by his press team.

After his meeting with Musk, Milei will travel to Europe for a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in Copenhagen, participating in a ceremony on April 16 to mark Argentina’s purchase of a fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

Local reporting suggests another stop could be added to the trip, potentially Paris, France.


– TIMES/NA/BLOOMBERG

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