Tuesday
August 22, 2017

Presidents also boost trade deal with EU

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mercosur partners hope Trump’s protectionism will make Mexico closer to South America

President Mauricio Macri and Brazilian President Michel Temer didn’t sign any significant trade deals in the state visit held in Brasilia last Tuesday but indicated that they would begin to expand beyond Mercosur to find trade partners, taking advantage of the United States’ increasing protectionism.

US President Donad Trump’s moves against Mexico were hailed by Macri, who came to power in 2015 on a business-friendly programme. “This change in scenario will make Mexico turn to the South with more conviction,” Macri said in a statement, after inking a series of small deals with Temer, an unpopular politician deeply implicated in corruption probes in his country.

Macri said he spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to discuss deepening cooperation between Mexico and Mercosur and wished him good luck in his dealings with the United States.

“Mexico represents a great opportunity for Brazil and the region,” said Welber Barral, the former international trade secretary for Brazil from 2007 to 2011. “Mexico is a huge importer of agricultural products and its car industry could complement that of Brazil.”

The trade flow between Latin America’s biggest economies has dropped nearly 10 percent between 2012 and 2016 to US$7.3 billion, roughly the size of commerce between Brazil and Chile.

Both Macri and Temer — who assumed the presidency last year after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff — also hope that the Mercosur can close a free trade deal with the European Union in talks that have dragged on for more than a decade.

Tax evasion

In an attempt to make the exchange of tax and financial information more efficient, Finance Minister Nicolás Dujovne met with Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles. The Let’s Change administration wants to be able to detect non-declared properties in Florianópolis, Buzios, Río de Janeiro and Sao Paulo as well as companies. The financial exchange information would occur every year “automatically” at the end of the year, according to a deal already signed in 2013. “Argentina and Brazil need to advance on eliminating the double taxation on revenue for those that export services from Argentina to Brazil,” Dujovne said.

Lava Jato

Following the summit with Temer, the Argentine President met with the Supreme Court justices of Brazil and discussed the Lava Jato corruption scandal, which many Argentines are allegedly implicated in.

As part of a US$3.5 billion settlement with Brazilian, US and Swiss authorities in December, — a major company involved in the Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption scheme — admitted to paying bribes in 12 mostly Latin American countries including US$35 million in Argentina. Former officials of the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration may be among those pointed out in the probe, but not only them. Key friends and relatives of Mauricio Macri, such as president’s cousin Ángelo Calcaterra and the Let’s Change administration’s Intelligence Agency head Gustavo Arribas may be involved in the case too. The latter, who rents the president’s apartment, was accused by one of the Brazilians implicated in the corruption scandal of receiving over 594,000 dollars in irregular payments from a Hong Kong account allegedly used for bribes.

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