The show must continue, and despite all the theatrics, relations between the incoming government of Argentina's libertarian president Javier Milei and Brazil, (together with China), the leading trade partners, bilateral relations are less confrontational and more fluid than can be expected, so points out an analysis of the situation by O-Globo the leading media consortium from the state of Rio do Janeiro and with good political contacts in Itamaraty.
Leave aside the fact that conservative populist ex president Jair Bolsonaro and his boys, will be attending the Milei presidential ceremony on 10 December, while Brazilian president, Lula will be absent, since he feels offended by Milei's assertion calling him a radical communist, and even the fact that in South America-s most important soccer derby, Argentina's Messi defeated the canarinha in its football temple, the Maracana stadium, while the Brazilian police had a 'bashing day', beating up Argentine misbehaved fans (hooligans?), according to O-Globo there is another picture developing.
In effect Milei's closest officials have been sending messages to Brazilian diplomats indicating that the posture, including questioning Mercosur, was part of a campaign strategy, and actually parting ways with the trade bloc is unlikely.
According to an internal document circulating within the upper echelons of Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, Itamaraty, Milei’s VP, Victoria Villarruel, and the economist Diana Mondino, elected national deputy and likely chancellor, have made discreet contacts with the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires to reaffirm “the central importance of relations with Brazil.”
Specifically on Mercosur, they indicated the intention of a Milei administration to update and modernize it, not necessarily to denounce it or remove Argentina from the group, as stated in the document titled “Perspectives on a potential government of Javier Milei for bilateral relations.”
For Argentina Brazil remains the largest destination for exports, with a trade surplus of US$ 2.2 billion in 2022 and US$ 4.5 billion this year.
According to the analysis conducted by diplomats, “Even in the hypothesis that Milei lives up to the threat of removing Argentina from Mercosur (unlikely but cannot be entirely ruled out given Milei’s personality), he would have to deal with difficult parliamentary requirements in a context of Parliament dominated by the opposition.”
During much of the campaign, Milei insisted he would withdraw Argentina from Mercosur if he won the elections. “It is a customs union that favors businessmen who do not want to compete. I want to be aligned with the West; my partners will be the United States and Israel,” he claimed insisting that the bloc is “stagnant” and “going nowhere.”
However, in the last TV debate on Sunday (12), when Sergio Massa asked if Milei still intended to leave the bloc, he replied: “That is a concern for the private market, and the state has no reason to intervene because every time it intervenes, it generates corruption.”
Even so, in the Brazilian foreign ministry Itamaraty report, diplomats acknowledge that this extreme stance could lead to a contraction in the common ground between Brazil and Argentina and the weakening of cooperation within Mercosur.
To mitigate the negative impact, Itamaraty’s recommendation to the Lula government is to “avoid unnecessary controversies, especially through the press and social media, preserve the bilateral relations, and keep channels of dialogue permanently open.”