Latin Amer­ica in spot­light at G20 sum­mit

China Daily European Weekly - - Cover Story -

By AN­DREW MOODY

The G20 meet­ing in Buenos Aires will aim to demon­strate the im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion Latin Amer­ica can make to the rest of the world, ac­cord­ing to Ar­gen­tine Pres­i­dent Mauri­cio Macri.

Ar­gentina is the first South Amer­i­can coun­try to host the G20 Lead­ers’ Sum­mit, although not the first from Latin Amer­ica, with Mex­ico stag­ing it in 2012.

“Our pres­i­dency (of the G20) will seek to em­body the ex­pres­sion not only of one coun­try, but that of a whole re­gion. Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean have much to con­trib­ute to the world or­der, through their tal­ented peo­ple, abun­dant nat­u­ral re­sources and as a re­gion of peace and co­op­er­a­tion,” Macri said in an ad­dress ahead of the sum­mit.

Ju­liana Gon­za­lez Jau­regui, re­search fel­low at the Latin Amer­i­can so­cial sciences in­sti­tute FLACSO, be­lieves it is im­por­tant that the sum­mit is be­ing held in Ar­gentina.

“There is an ex­cite­ment about it in Ar­gentina. It is part of an ef­fort by the gov­ern­ment for the coun­try to be re­con­nected to the rest of the world. It is im­por­tant that it is the first time the sum­mit is be­ing held in South Amer­ica,” she says.

How­ever, Jau­regui, who was speak­ing from Buenos Aires, is doubt­ful that Latin Amer­i­can con­cerns will drive the sum­mit agenda.

“Latin Amer­i­can mem­bers, par­tic­u­larly Brazil and Ar­gentina, used to be very crit­i­cal and wanted to change those rules of the fi­nan­cial sys­tem and in­ter­na­tional trade that they con­sid­ered were un­fair,” she said.

“They pro­moted pol­i­tics that pro­tected la­bor and so­cial in­clu­sion in­side the G20, and with the sup­port of other emer­gent coun­tries, aimed to achieve a more bal­anced mul­ti­lat­eral trade sys­tem that would guar­an­tee de­vel­op­ing coun­tries their own le­git­i­mate place.”

She says, how­ever, that over the past two years in par­tic­u­lar, they have be­come more ac­cept­ing of the ex­ist­ing or­der.

“Com­pared to the past, Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries have shown a more com­pla­cent po­si­tion to­ward the rules of the fi­nan­cial sys­tem and the Bret­ton Woods or­der. In ef­fect, they have be­come rule tak­ers.”

The G20 is not the first ma­jor meet­ing to take place in Buenos Aires over the past year, with the 11th min­is­te­rial con­fer­ence of the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion be­ing held there in De­cem­ber last year.

Ariel Mar­tin Sli­pak, an econ­o­mist at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Moreno in Buenos Aires, says Ar­gentina is try­ing to put it­self on the map and send out a sig­nal that it is open for in­vest­ment.

The coun­try has had a num­ber of re­cent eco­nomic set­backs and had to se­cure a $50 bil­lion credit line agreed to with the IMF in June and raise in­ter­est rates to 60 per­cent in Au­gust to bol­ster the cur­rency.

“Macri is very keen for Ar­gentina to be com­mer­cially open to the rest of the world. He is very much in fa­vor of for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment from the rest of the world, whether it comes from the US, China or Rus­sia,” Sli­pak said.

With in­fra­struc­ture one of the G20’s pri­or­i­ties, Ar­gentina is very sup­port­ive of China’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, and is now a mem­ber of the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank.

China has pro­vided ma­jor fi­nanc­ing for a num­ber of in­fra­struc­ture projects in the coun­try, in­clud­ing rail­ways and hy­dropower dams.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies are likely to be in­volved in a new tun­nel project link­ing Ar­gentina and Chile un­der the An­des, which will take nine years to com­plete and will give Ar­gentina an­other oceanic link to China.

Gon­za­lez Jau­regui, from FLACSO, adds: “In­fra­struc­ture is very im­por­tant to Ar­gentina. This tun­nel link would be one of the most sig­nif­i­cant projects within the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive that would ben­e­fit Ar­gentina.”

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