President Alberto Fernandez adds a new destination on his first international tour of 2022: on February 3, the president will travel to Moscow and meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The meeting will take place one day before his arrival in China and will have as its objective deepen the bilateral relationship between the two countries and deploy a joint productive development agenda. The stopover in Russia will last 48 hours, and then Fernández and his entourage will leave for China to participate in the official opening of the Winter Olympics. In the Asian giant, the President will take the opportunity to meet with Xi Jinping and close a series of agreements related to Science and Technology. On these trips, which take place on the brink of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, Fernández will seek to strengthen his international role, taking advantage of his new role as president of CELAC, and deepen ties with the leaders of two powers that, in turn, , considers strategic business partners of Argentina.
The meeting began to take shape two months ago between the chancellor santiago cafiero and the Argentine ambassador to Russia, Eduardo Zuain, and ended up being confirmed: on Thursday, February 3, Fernández will travel to Russia and have his first face-to-face bilateral meeting with Putin. In his two years in office, Fernández spoke on a few occasions with the Russian president, by phone or Zoom, and several times they agreed to schedule a face-to-face meeting that, due to the epidemiological situation, was always postponed. There were two international meetings — the commemoration of the International Holocaust Day in Jerusalem in 2020 and the G-20 Leaders Summit in Rome last year — in which both presidents coincided and were about to meet but later, Due to scheduling issues, the meeting could not take place. Finally, just two weeks before the President left for China, the meeting ended up being announced in a surprise way by the presidential spokeswoman, Gabriela Cerruti.
“It is a bilateral meeting that was pending and will deal with collaboration in vaccines, investments and collaboration in science and topics of common interest”, they explained from Casa Rosada. Russia, like China, was a key country for Argentina during the pandemic, the first being to send a batch of vaccines against covid at the end of 2020. In total, since then, the Russian government has sent the country almost 15 million doses, to which are added the 6 million that were produced in Argentina in the Richmond laboratory from the active component also sent by Russia, according to sources from the Ministry of Health of the Nation. Argentina, in fact, was one of the first countries to authorize the application of the Sputnik V.
The objective of the meeting, however, will go beyond vaccines. “It will be a relaunch of the strategic relationship between both countries”, a government source told Page 12, anticipating that progress would be made on deepening the productive agenda between Russia and Argentina. It is also expected that there will be an announcement of investments in the country, as well as technology transfer and “major projects that the post-pandemic is allowing to deploy.”
From Moscow, the presidential delegation will continue their trip to China, where they were invited by President Xi Jinping to participate in the inauguration of the Winter Olympic Games. The other official reason for the visit is the anniversary of 50 years of bilateral relationship with the Asian country and the Government will take advantage of this visit to deepen its ties with China and join the call “new silk road” (a monumental infrastructure investment project launched by Xi Jinping almost 10 years ago to which Argentina will seek to join). During the trip, in addition, a series of agreements linked to Science and Technology and there will be announcements related to the installation of electric car plants and investment in the industrialization of lithium.
Alberto Fernández’s visit to China has a particular weight, within the framework of the boycott that the United States and several European countries are promoting against the Olympic Games by deciding not to send political representatives. Fernández will also attend, holding the temporary presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), an organization to which China attaches particular relevance given that, for a dozen countries in the region, this power became their main trading partner.
Within negotiations with the IMF to refinance the 44 billion debt taken during the government of Mauricio Macri, there are some doubts about the way in which the rapprochement with countries like China and Russia will fall on the United States, the main shareholder of the Monetary Fund and the country that handles the key to close a new deal. In the national government, however, they were confident that it would not affect the negotiations: “Argentina deploys a realistic, friendly and dignified foreign policy. And the horizon that the President set is to prioritize the interests of our country. They are parallel agendas that seek speed up the process of recovery in Argentina”, they affirmed from Casa Rosada.