Author: Juan Martin González Cabañas – 31/05/2021
Alberto Fernandez in Latin Europe: obtaining international support for the renegotiation of the foreign debt the priority objective
After his tour in the Latin Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy), – last week between May 10 and 14- the balance of the European “expedition” by the Argentine President Alberto Fernández seems to be satisfactory. In fact, with Latin cultural and ideological affinity as assets, the symbolic and material support sought in the Old Continent seems to be obtained. The main issue addressed by the Argentine Head of State in this European tour was the foreign debt of his country. Other topics addressed (especially in Italy and The Vatican) were ecology, new models of society and new forms of ideological orientation.
This is the second time during his recent term in office (which has not yet reached 2 years) that Fernández headed for Europe.
Argentina is a South American and Ibero-Latin-American country with a cultural affinity towards Europe (especially Spain-France and Italy) that is currently in the framework of a geopolitical context of multidimensional strategic competition between the United States and China, being geographically located in the natural and traditional area of influence of the American colossus, but at the same time having strong economic ties with the Asian dragon.
· the priority objective: better conditions for resolving foreign debt
The foreign debt is one of the main challenges on the public agenda of the current Argentine government, in addition to managing the crisis of the pandemic (with its consequent campaign of mass vaccination), the control of inflation and the general economic reactivation.
Regarding to foreign debt, the “timing” seems to be favorable. European support is very opportune at a time when already large global players such as Russia, China and factions of the US ruling class have expressed their support for Argentina to renegotiate better conditions with one of its main creditors: the International Monetary Fund.
The Argentine government seeks to postpone payments for a loan of about 44 billion dollars owed to the IMF, acquired by the previous government of Mauricio Macri in 2018, In addition to requesting the refinancing of the terms of about 2.4 billion dollars with the Paris Club, between capital and interest, which expire on May 30. After that date, there are 60 days of grace, a period that, if not fulfilled, would mean a new sovereign default, next July 1. That is the reason for the urgency of the Argentine president to reach a new agreement.
The coming months will be essential to turn these public relations, from discursive endorsements, into concrete actions by the players involved, and to obtain concrete achievements.
• Regional and Argentine scenario
In the context of a South America shaken for years by social phenomena, economic and political crises, and now due to the Covid-19 pandemic, health crisis, Argentina in the event of obtaining better terms in agreement with the creditors of its foreign debt, and therefore with a “healthy” economy available, a largely immunized population, and already being a manufacturing and distribution hub of vaccines against the Covid, Argentina could become a valid interlocutor of the region with other global actors to map out a more stable post-pandemic international reconfiguration.
A sustainable solution to Argentina’s foreign debt would not only be key for the country, but for its entire South American neighborhood.
As can be seen, there are multiple actors interested in the development of the next processes.
A brief racconto of the tour
· The Iberian chapter
Between 10 and 11 May, Alberto Fernández held official meetings with the Heads of State and Government of Spain and Portugal.
Alberto Fernandez’s last tour began in Portugal where, together with Premier Antonio Costa, they highlighted the good harmony between the two governments. Costa confirmed his support for Argentina in the negotiations on its foreign debt. Fernández highlighted the need to freeze the surcharges that the IMF imposes on Argentina and those countries that are going through similar situations, in addition to other possible axes of cooperation in the Portuguese-Argentine agenda: tourism, economic production and triangular cooperation with Africa.
On 11 May, in joint statement with the President of Argentina, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez confirmed his support for Argentina in renegotiating its foreign debt, stressing the negative impact of the IMF surcharges on the prospects for a recovery of the Argentine economy, and argued on the need for better assistance policies for middle-income countries by the international financial organizations, this last initiative was one of the most resonant topics of the last Ibero-American Summit. Finally Sanchez referred (highlighting the agreement with Argentina on this issue) to the need for vaccines against Covid-19 to be considered a Global Common Good. Alberto Fernández stressed that in June the head of the Spanish government will make a visit to Argentina, where a strategic association agreement will be made, with the aim of reinvigorating the bilateral relationship, there has been talk of an upcoming and strong volume of Spanish investments in Argentina that would be sealed with Sánchez’s visit to Argentina and the signing of that agreement.
The Argentine president was also received by the King of Spain.
On 12/05 in official statements during the official reception to Alberto Fernandez, French President Macron said he will continue to support the Argentine government in negotiations for its foreign debt (especially before the Club de Paris) as well as ecological policies in the face of climate change and I highlight the role of Argentina as a mediator in the Venezuelan crisis.
Italy and the Vatican
13 and 14 May: Alberto Fernandez was received by the highest Italian authorities: President Sergio Mattarella, and Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who joined the list of countries supporting Fernandez in his renegotiation. Draghi expressed support for the Argentine request to the International Monetary Fund to take into account the context of the pandemic and agree to refinance the debt that the country has with that multilateral credit agency.
In addition, in Rome Fernandez had a meeting with the director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, where the head of the financial institution exhibited a dissonant positive tone in relation to the usual about Argentina, in addition to a meeting with John Kerry, Former US Secretary of State and Special Envoy for Climate Change.
In the Vatican there was also a reception by Pope Francis to the Argentine president.
On May 14 the cabinet staff of Alberto Fernandez participated in the outstanding seminar “Dreaming a better restart” organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences -presided over by the Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo (key link with the Vatican).
The meeting had outstanding guests John Kerry and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen ‘German Finance Secretary Wolfgang Schmidt, economists Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs.
Other articles by Juan Martin González Cabañas published in Vision & Global Trends. International Institute for Global Analyses’ website:
- “Eurasia and Latin America in a multipolar world” by Andrés Serbin
- Public perception of the Sputnik V vaccine in Argentina and Latin America
- Vaccination: Market Commodity or Public Good?
- Vision & Global Trends presence at Latin American conference
- The world order after the US elections
- SAOCOM 1B: Italy and Argentina partners in outer space
- The slow decline of Catholicism in Latin America
- Latin America – Russia: An Agenda for Constructive Cooperation in the Post-COVID-19 Era
- Synthesis and analysis of the IEES Panorama of geopolitical trends Horizon 2040
- International Relations: a Critical Theory from the South American periphery
- Argentina in the Multipolar Order
- The War for the Web
- Old roads and new paradigms: on the last BRI Summit
- The second return of Marco Polo to Italy
- Huawei case: high tech war, strategic competition, geopolitical tension
- The South American and Venezuelan Uncertain Horizon