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Alberto Fernández and Macron review world issues in Paris

Friday, November 11th 2022 - 10:54 UTC
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Alberto Fernández's international tour is to go on next at the G20 Summit in Indonesia Alberto Fernández's international tour is to go on next at the G20 Summit in Indonesia

Argentine President Alberto Fernández Thursday met with his French colleague Emmanuel Macron in Paris on the first stop of his new international tour that will later bring him to the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

The two leaders reviewed at the Elysée Palace the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, the change in France's stance regarding Venezuela; the new scenario in Latin America after Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva's victory in Brazil; and the economic and social situation in Argentina.

Macron also conveyed his solidarity to Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) for the Sept. 1 assassination attempt against her. President Fernández said he agreed with CFK's plan to have Judge María Eugenia Capuchetti recused.

Global inflation and Macron's subsequent interest in ending the Ukraine war is one of the main topics at the Peace Forum starting Friday in Paris.

Before their meeting began, both leaders made statements to the press: “Emmanuel has in me a sincere friend, who values him, appreciates him, and shares a common ideology on the need for a world in peace and democracy. For Argentina it is very important to know that in the center of Europe a French president can listen to the countries of the southern hemisphere and in particular of Latin America,” President Fernández said.

Macron assured that with Alberto “as president of Celac, we want to work for stability in the world and the construction of a geopolitical order that allows finding peace in the European territory as soon as possible and also to improve the energy and food situation that has been affected by this war initiated by Russia.”

Fernández also asked for Macron's help to persuade the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stop adding surcharges to indebted countries such as Argentina and also Ukraine. Macron replied that he would take up the issue, that he knew that Argentina had arranged with the Paris Club to pay its debt and that the G-20 summit in Bali will be a good moment to discuss the issue with IMF manager Kristalina Georgieva.

Both leaders also went over renewable energies and lithium. The French company Eramet will invest 600 million Euros in Argentine for the production of lithium batteries.

Alberto Fernández also told Macron about his lunch with Brazil's President-elect Lula and the importance of the latter's victory for the region.

While Fernández highlighted the importance of nuclear weapons not being used in Ukraine and that the country's nuclear plants be spared from attacks, Macron said they should go for all of the packages, and seek full peace. Macron said he can lead such an approach, but he needed support from other parts of the world, such as Argentina, India, South Africa, and Asian nations, to join in and deliver a statement to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bali. “Nobody is going to tell Putin to cease hostilities, but it will be a statement that the world will make to him regarding this issue,” they explained.

Regarding Venezuela, Macron, who once agreed in 2019 to hold Juan Guaidó as acting president, has had a change of mind, boosted by the need for the South American country's oil to replace supplies from Russia and Ukraine.

Fernández insisted that “Venezuela could not be the new Cuba” and that the blockades had to be lifted.

Before boarding the Aerolíneas Argentinas chartered aircraft, Fernández signed a decree extending Congress' ordinary sessions until Dec. 30. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary sessions is that in the latter case the head of state may state which issues are to be addressed.

Despite the technicalities, it became known that Fernández wants three specific laws passed: the Windfall Income Tax, the Agroindustry Law, and the Buy Argentina initiative.

The Windfall Income Tax bill was submitted in June by then Economy Minister Martín Guzmán but failed to advance in Congress. It seeks to tax unexpected incomes stemming from the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. It would be an over-rate of the Corporate Income Tax applicable to the fiscal year 2022, which will be applied to companies that meet the conditions in balance sheets returned after the enactment of the law and for one full year.

The Buy Argentine Law, meanwhile, is an industrial policy tool that would funnel state purchases to home-built products to promote local suppliers over foreign ones.

And The Agroindustry Law promotes greater industrialization of agriculture to export with added value, through the addition of new investments and technology.

Once in Indonesia, Fernández is due to hold a one-on-one talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping, while a similar encounter with US President Joseph Biden is being brokered but has not yet been confirmed. Hence, a possible trip by President Fernández at a later date is also being discussed.

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