Brazilian officials brushed aside claims from exporters that the country has been ‘soft’ on Argentina and on imports from Asia, mainly China, arguing that trade figures indicate something different and “you can’t have it both ways, liberal and protectionist”.
“Brazil has not been soft on Argentina or Mercosur associates and many of the complaints from exporters and the business community are unfounded”, said Alessandro Teixeira, executive secretary at the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade.
“These are businessman tears. I am not saying that they are totally wrong; it is normal for them to cry about these things. But what they want is a win-win situation and that is not possible. We have never been so hard and demanding on Argentina as we are at this time said Texeira.
He points out that the business community complains about protectionism in Argentina at the same time they call for protection from Chinese imports. We cannot be so hypocritical. The government cannot be protectionist at the same time it is liberal.
Teixeira points out that Brazil's trade surplus shows that the country is doing well in foreign commerce, and that includes Argentina where things are going very well.
We have increased our exports to Argentina. Last year our surplus with them was up 40%, double what we grew with the rest of the world.” He adds that so far this year exports to Argentina are up 33%, at 10.4 billion dollars (US$ 7.9 billion in 2010).
The top trade official said that the ministry oversees the situation at the border where, in accordance with World Trade Organization rules, goods under benefit of the non automatic import licence system (applied both by Argentina and Brazil) must be liberated within 60 days.
Our oversight is continuous. I exchange emails with the Argentine secretariat of Industry daily. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Tension between trade partners is normal and it is natural. According to Teixeira, a certain protectionist attitude on the part of Argentina is understandable.
They have gone through a brutal process of de-industrialization. They are making an effort to rebuild their industrial park. If they buy everything from Brazil they will never have any industries.
Brazil is Argentina’s main trade partner together with China and Argentina a leading market for Brazilian manufactured goods.