Argentina set to welcome a Peronist President again, India-MERCOSUR expansion talks could delay further

Huma Siddiqui
pm modi, argentina

Stage is set for President Alberto Fernandez to take over reins in Buenos Aires, Argentina next week and will be faced with a stagnant economy and also the future of many agreements including India-MERCOSUR Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA).

The India-MERCOSUR expansion talks have been going very slow and chances are according to officers who are in the know of the talks between the two sides have confirmed that the expansion negotiations may not move forward due to the political differences between Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, and the new elected President of Argentina. The India-MERCOSUR talks have been stuck for sometimes as the member countries have been unable to resolve their political differences.

Sharing her views on the new leader in Argentina, Prof Aparaajita Pandey, Amity University says, "Alberto Fernandez is all set to take the reins of Argentina in his hands on the 10th of December as the 45 day period of the transition for the government comes to an end. Argentina is set to welcome a Peronist yet again as a President."

According to Pandey, "a country that was experimenting with the centre-left seems to be eager to return to familiar patterns as was clear from the Argentine elections. Fernandez's victory was confirmed with the first round of voting itself as he manages to secure 48 per cent of the votes against Mauricio Macri's 41 per cent, leaving no reason for another round of voting."

Mauricio Macri was chosen as the head of the Argentine state on the basis of a business-friendly image. His approach was supposed to be of a man who had 'ambition to win' in stark contrast to the left-leaning Peronists who had previously led the country. "As Argentina faced and is still facing an economic crisis, Macri was looked upon as a saviour of the economy as a business-savvy leader who would bring in policies that would help small businesses and initiative thereby strengthening the economy. The world's financial institutions and the world's media seemed to have placed as much faith in him as the people of Argentina," she observes.

However, in her opinion, "The former President Macri could not keep his promises. And, his approach of 'gradualismo' or gradual economic reform or lack of aggressive tackling the economic deficit led to the Argentine population losing their faith in him."

A man who was supposed to fix the economy got reduced to political rhetoric and left the economy in a worse state than he came into. As Fernandez gets ready to take his place, he has a legacy of a stagnant economy, decrepit institutions, and an impatient public that hopes to see change sooner rather than later.

According to Oliver Stuenkel, Getulio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo, "Brazil, is Argentina’s most important trading partner."

There are three main policy differences between Brazil and the next leader of Argentina which could have an impact not only on their bilateral relations, but on regional politics too.

Stuenkel in one of his articles for Americas Quarterly has mentioned that "while Brazil is open to more liberalized trade, Argentina is on the other hand more conservative in its approach."

Argentina which is a member of MERCOSUR, according to him, is likely to seek re-negotiation of certain parts of the recent EU-MERCOSUR trade deal which was inked recently.

If this happens, then the remaining members — Paraguay and Uruguay will have to just wait and watch before taking any decisions.