Trudeau and Macri insist increased trade is path to a better future

Friday, November 18, 2016

Leaders promise to work on boosting commerce amid global protectionist mood

President Mauricio Macri and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed yesterday to reinvigorate the bilateral relationship with a focus on investment, trade and cooperation concerning the settlement of Syrian refugees in Argentina.

Also taking a prominent role in the discussion at Government House yesterday was sustainable mining and climate change.

Marking his first visit to South America as prime minister, Trudeau expressed his satisfaction that there had been an understanding on promoting “inclusive growth and trade,” including the restoration of Canadian pork exports to Argentina.

Both were at pains to stress that yesterday’s tête à tête would help reboot a relationship with a view to increasing its intensity in the coming years.

Trade and refugees

Trudeau promised greater cooperation with regard to sustainable mining, in which Canadian companies have a significant presence in Argentina. Asked about the double cyanide solution spills at the Barrick Gold Veladero mine in San Juan province, Trudeau said that Canada was concerned and willing to work with local authorities. Macri added that Argentina holds a great deal of potential with regard to the mining sector and that increased cooperation with Canada would help cut environmental risks to economic activity.

The prime minister, mindful of Macri’s commitment to resettle 3,000 Syrian refugees, said that Canada will offer its advice and assistance in terms of private sponsoring, integration and screening of asylum seekers. The Canadian government under Trudeau has spearheaded an effort to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees since he was sworn-in a little over a year ago.

President-elect Donald Trump and the prospects of tighter borders and greater obstacles to global trade overshadowed the meeting between Trudeau and Macri and in response to questions from the press both advocated integration and trade as the best way forward.

“The vision that we expressed today with the prime minister is that the future is based on greater integration, more trade, and the most recent elections have shown an opposite trend, but today I reiterate that I believe that coming from an Argentina that was isolated from the world for more than a decade, that the future really is about benefitting from trade” said Macri. He went on to say that there was an understanding over promoting discussions between Canada and the Mercosur and not just bilaterally. The Mercosur is currently in the process of defining the finer details of free trade negotiations with the European Union — which further to the ramifications of the Brexit must also overcome heavy internal resistance from agricultural sectors.

Incidentally, Canada and the European Union recently hammered out a free-trade deal of their last month despite last-minute objections. There was also an agreement to boost cooperation in multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In turn, Trudeau recognized that there was “anxiety” in various corners of the world, including Canada, about trade and globalization and that the challenge was now to recognize that trend and steer it away from nationalism and populism and to instead focus on the creation of economic opportunities and growth for small and medium-sized businesses through responsible trade agreements.

Both leaders addressed the media after meeting privately beforehand, accompanied by Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña, Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, Production Minister Francisco Cabrera, Strategic Affairs Secretary Fulvio Pompeo and Argentine Ambassador to Canada Marcelo Suárez Salvia. For Canada, Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland, Ambassador Robert Fry and Foreign & Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister John Hannaford participated.

Trudeau, arriving in Buenos Aires en route from Cuba and on the way to Peru for the APEC summit in Lima, also laid a wreath at Plaza San Martín and shared a moment with the Cirque de Soleil troupe in Buenos Aires. Today he is set to visit Remembrance Park and a luncheon hosted by the Argentine-Canadian Chamber of Commerce before departing for Peru.

Beyond the strictly economic and political, the two leaders — who have met several times in the last year but yesterday marked the first official visit during their terms — promised to restore human rights consultations and to work jointly on studying the effects of climate change in the Arctic and Antarctic.

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