Argentina continues to push for economic regionalism

In Interview with The Nikkei, Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri expressed his urgency to continue eliminating trade barriers between LatAm countries.

President Macri’s vision for economic integration in LatAm seems increasingly clear with a recent interview he gave for Japanese newspaper, The Nikkei. Previously, Macri had been vocal on his desire to associate Argentina with the rest of the region, and the way he has been liberalizing Argentina’s economy firmly backed up his statements. Now though, his intentions seem more clearly outlined.

The president of Argentina envisioned a huge merger of Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance, which he argues would empower LatAm’s bargaining power in the international stage.

Argentina was recently included as an observer in the Pacific Alliance, a message that many interpreted as a desire to communicate that they were open for business. However, for Macri, Argentina’s inclusion means that there is a will to push towards market integration.

Ultimately then, Macri seems keen on bringing down trade barriers everywhere in the region to simplify trade within LatAm, as well as developing togetherness to negotiate trade deals abroad.

However, experience would tell us that the timing is not right. As current events harken back to 2005, when the first proposals of creating a single economic market for LatAm circled regional parliaments.

The most determined opponent of economic integration in the region the first time around was Hugo Chavez, today, Nicolas Maduro follows firmly in his path. It is true that Venezuela has lost most of its influence due to the commodities price slump and the unprecedented crisis they are living, but ideologically they are as important as ever. With populist leaders out of the equation in Brazil and Argentina, Venezuela’s role as populist poster-boy takes additional importance. Come push and shove, Venezuela will defend the Bolivarian movement fiercely, as they know they are one of the las bastions of socialism in the region.

Macri means well, and its clear he has a master plan. It is also clear that he will give this plan certain priority in his agenda, as he looks towards cleaning Argentina’s economic record of Kirchner’s vices. But he will have to be patient, the truth is the last couple of years have been turbulent for LatAm, and what he intends to do will require no distractions.

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