Argentine president Mauricio Macri received on Wednesday Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, who had anticipated the purpose of the visit was to deepen UK-Argentine economic partnership and address political issues of common interest, such as the 2018 G20 summit and Argentina's aspiration to join OECD.
Mr. Hammond and a business delegation on a four day South American visit, which took off in Brazil, is the first UK cabinet minister to visit the country since 2001.
Hammond met Macri at the official presidential residence in Olivos at midday. The president was accompanied by his foreign affairs advisor, Fulvio Pompeo, and cabinet members who later held bilateral talks with the visiting chancellor: Economy minister Nicolás Dujovne, Finance minister Luis Caputo and Foreign minister Jorge Faurie.
Faurie who hosted Hammond for lunch said the two countries are going through a very productive scenario for bilateral relations: we firmly believe that trade and investment are the best tools to expand development, create more and better jobs and prop competitiveness and productivity
In the evening Hammond participated in a reception with Argentine officials, business people and local personalities. Thursday morning the chancellor is scheduled to share breakfast with business leaders driving trade and investment between the two countries, including in the Argentine efficient agribusiness sector.
The chancellor is leading a trade delegation including representatives from the London Stock Exchange, Crossrail International, the Bank of England, Aberdeen Assets Management, Arup, City of London, London Transport and London Underground. A source close to Hammond said: “The agenda is focused firmly on building economic ties and looking ahead to the G20.”
With the economic team, Dujovne and Caputo, the British officials discussed the G20 summit to be held in Buenos Aires next year, support for Argentina's OECD membership and increasing trade and investment following last year's thaw, confirmed in the last September joint communiqué
”We need to strengthen our trade links, and we are encouraged by UK's companies interest in participating in infrastructure projects using the PPP (private public association) system, remarked minister Dujovne.
According to Argentine sources Hammond underlined that even with Brexit, UK has great interest” in achieving a trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union, and also looking ahead pointed to a possible food accord with Argentina regarding agriculture and food.
Bilateral trade remains weak since EU members Germany, Italy and Spain are ahead of UK: in 2015 Argentine exports totaled US$ 721 million and UK sales US$ 588.5 million. Last year Argentine exported US$ 697m and imported US$ 471m from UK.
Apparently the thorny issue of the Falklands was not addressed and both countries remained in their positions.