President Alberto Fernandez will travel to Brasília on Tuesday to meet with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, seeking to boost bilateral ties and trade and seek extra financing for Argentina’s crisis-ridden economy.
The two leaders, ideological allies who share a warm friendship, agreed to schedule a visit after sharing a productive videoconference call last Thursday. They intend to follow up on the talks face-to-face.
Government in charge of the preparations told the Noticias Argentinas news agency on Saturday that the presidential delegation will include Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero, Argentina’s Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Scioli and potentially Economy Minister Sergio Massa, whose attendance has not yet been confirmed.
The focus is mostly economic. Amid the items on the agenda is potential financing for the ongoing construction of Argentina’s massive Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline that begins at the Vaca Muerta shale gas formation. The government in Buenos Aires wants to finish the project’s second section before this year’s presidential election and needs around US$689 million to complete vital infrastructure. Brazil’s BNDES development bank could be a potential source.
According to a report from the Noticias Argentinas news agency, teams from both nations will also seek to make progress on mechanisms that will allow them to "carry out exports in a common currency."
Buenos Aires would like BNDES to provide financing for Brazilian firms that export to Argentina, a move that would prevent the Central Bank from having to use its international reserves to pay for purchases from the neighbouring country.
According to a statement from the Casa Rosada issued after last week’s call, Lula and Fernández "stressed the importance of deepening fraternal ties and bilateral trade," among other issues, and offered updates on the “implementation of cooperation agreements signed in recent months.”
According to the text, the presidents then reviewed agreements signed last January 23 during Lula’s last visit to Buenos Aires, aimed at “the relaunching of the strategic alliance between the two countries.”
The Argentine and Brazilian leaders also discussed the role of the UNASUR (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas) bloc, “a regional organisation to which both countries formally announced their return in recent weeks," said the Casa Rosada.
Both leaders highlighted the talks in subsequent posts on Twitter. Lula said that he had “called my friend and President of Argentina @alferdez, we talked about UNASUR, fraternal relations in our continent and the deepening of trade between our countries.”
Fernández responded by quoting that post and adding his own message.
"We continue to deepen bilateral trade and strategic economic relations with Brazil. I spoke at length with President @LulaOficial about the importance of @UNASUR, we know that the fraternal bond of our peoples is key to continue growing," the Peronist leader wrote.
Initial talks have begun over the possibility of Brazil hosting a summit of the bloc’s members and leaders at the end of May.