Spain’s King Juan Carlos will be travelling to Brazil and Chile in the first week of June to strengthen ties with two strategic associates and in preparation of the Ibero-American summit to take place in Cadiz. The King will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo and a business delegation.
This will be the King’s first overseas trip since the right hip surgery following a fall in Botswana during a hunting safari. Since April Juan Carlos has limited all official activities to the Zarzuela Palace.
Spain considers Brazil “a priority in Ibero-America”, according to Madrid diplomatic sources. The visit is one of a calendar of trips to the region “to try and recover lost time” in links with Brazil a country which no Spanish head of government has stepped since 2008.
Garcia-Margallo was last week in Brazil and on June 15 Spanish president Mariano Rajoy is scheduled to be in Rio do Janeiro for the sustainable summit Rio+20.
Spain would like to see Brazil discussing an association agreement with the EU with no need to add the rest of Mercosur (Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), with which negotiations for a free trade accord have been ongoing for over a decade and a half.
The Spanish government is convinced that the EU/Mercosur association will not advance given Argentina’s lack of respect for legal security following on the expropriation of YPF from Repsol.
“It’s hard to understand why Brazil has not taken the most advantage of its relation with the EU because discussions with Mercosur are not advancing. After all, the EU has association agreements with Mexico, Chile, Central America, Peru and Colombia”, point out Madrid sources.
But the idea from Minister Garcia-Margallo did not have a good reception from Brazil or even from the European Commission which publicly discarded such a path.
The royal visit should also help prepare the Ibero-American summit next November in Cadiz where Spain wants to make sure all the leaders of the 22 countries that make up the Ibero-American Community of Nations will be attending.
Besides meeting with President Dilma Rousseff and Chile’s Sebastián Piñera, the King will have the opportunity of talking with Mexico’s Felipe Calderón; Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos and Peru’s Ollanta Humala in the Chilean city of Antofagasta where the Pacific Alliance leaders will be holding a summit.