Argentina ended its pro tempore presidency of Mercosur with a meeting in which disagreements persisted, while the opposition celebrated the result of the gubernatorial election in San Juan and this Sunday the Nestor Kirchner gas pipeline will be inaugurated, a work that will allow the country to save more than 4,000 million dollars for the substitution of gas imports.
The spectacular setting of the Iguazu Falls, in the province of Misiones, in the northeast of Argentina, did not help calm tensions between the Mercosur partners: the same differences were repeated, as has been the case in recent bloc meetings.
In the western province of San Juan, meanwhile, the national opposition celebrated that the candidate it backed won the gubernatorial elections and ended years of Peronist hegemony in that district.
In a context of serious lack of foreign currency, in which Argentina seeks to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that allows it to modify the conditions of the current agreement to return the 44,000 million dollars that the country received from the organization in 2018, next Sunday the Nestor Kirchner gas pipeline will be inaugurated, a work that promises to replace gas imports for 4,200 million dollars.
Mercosur: a meeting with disagreements
Argentina handed over the pro tempore presidency of Mercosur to Brazil at the LXII Meeting of the Common Market Council and Summit of Heads of State of MERCOSUR and Associated States that took place last Monday and Tuesday in the city of Puerto Iguazu.
On Monday, the foreign ministers, economy ministers and presidents of the bloc’s central banks met, and on Tuesday it was the turn of the presidents Alberto Fernandez (Argentina), Luiz Inacio ‘Lula’ Da Silva (Brazil), Luis Lacalle Pou (Uruguay) and Mario Abdo Benitez (Paraguay), who was accompanied by the president-elect of his country, Santiago Pena. It was the first time since 2019 and after the pandemic that all the presidents met in a Mercosur forum. Luis Arce, president of Bolivia, also participated, a country that seeks to become a full partner of the bloc.
In all cases, the speeches followed lines similar to those that have been heard in recent years: although the importance of unity was discussed, of strengthening the bloc, what was finally highlighted is that deep differences and disagreements persist .
The central issue was the postponed concretion of the agreement signed with the European Union (EU) in 2019. Although they said that the delays have more to do with disagreements within the EU, they also highlighted that an annex document presented became an obstacle. at the beginning of 2023 by the EU, which establishes new guarantees in environmental matters. Mercosur considers it unacceptable, and is preparing a response, something to which ‘Lula’ Da Silva promised when he assumed the pro tempore presidency. Although she also said that the implementation of that agreement cannot continue to be postponed.
I wanted to reiterate the extraordinary work that Argentina is the president @alferdez He was the last term in the presidency of Mercosul. The last time I presided over Mercosul was in 2010. And we have some commitments that we cannot say goodbye to. We need to conclude the Mercosul agreement -…
– Lula (@LulaOficial) July 4, 2023
Regarding the disagreements within Mercosur itself, Uruguay repeated, as on previous occasions, that it feels that Mercosur is not advancing with the necessary speed in free trade agreements and that, if they continue to be postponed, it could leave the bloc. He also insisted on the need to make Mercosur’s internal rules more flexible, to allow countries to negotiate free trade agreements independently. Brazil and Argentina, the majority partners, insist on working as a bloc. In fact, these two countries said that Mercosur has to be understood as more than a commercial union, but that it is also a political, social, and cultural union.
Uruguay, and also Paraguay, questioned para-tariff barriers within Mercosur, such as the non-automatic import licenses that Argentina has. And Paraguay also placed special emphasis on Argentina not charging a fee to ships that transport Paraguayan merchandise when they cross the Parana waterway, which connects both countries, in order to exit the Atlantic Ocean.
The dissidences also extended to regional politics. While the Uruguayan Lacalle Pou and the Paraguayan Abdo Benitez criticized the Venezuelan government, particularly for the disqualification of the opposition Maria Corina Machado from participating in elections, the presidents of Argentina and Brazil avoided condemnation and insisted that Venezuela’s problems should be be resolved among the Venezuelans themselves.
Elections in San Juan
In a year of intense electoral activity, the provincial elections continue to advance, while the national primaries are approaching. Although what happens in the provinces has its own dynamics, the national forces try to read in them indications of what the electorate could be thinking for the contest that will define the next president of Argentina.
Last Sunday it was the turn of the province of San Juan, in the west of the country, on the border with Chile. The opposition candidate Marcelo Orrego defeated the official Peronist Ruben Unac (brother of the current governor, who was not allowed by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation to stand for re-election, considering that he was not empowered according to the provincial constitution).
Yesterday the people of San Juan chose a change for the future of San Juan.
I only have words of gratitude to the people who gave us their support, to those who trusted, to all San Juan residents. pic.twitter.com/6d0e19T2Q0
— Marcelo Orrego (@DrMarceloOrrego) July 3, 2023
Orrego’s victory was celebrated by Juntos por el Cambio, the national opposition coalition that is nominating two candidates for the presidency: the head of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires Horacio Rodriguez Larreta –the closest to Orrego– and Patricia Bullrich, former minister of Security.
The President Nestor Kirchner gas pipeline is inaugurated
This Sunday, July 9, Independence Day in Argentina, the President Nestor Kirchner gas pipeline will be formally inaugurated, a key work for more gas to reach homes, companies and power generators in the province of Buenos Aires, the most populous and the highest consumption in the country.
The work, which under normal conditions would have taken two years of work, was completed in less than half the time. The pipeline originates in Tratayen, Neuquen province, from where it takes gas from the companies that extract it using fracturing techniques from the great Vaca Muerta formation, the second largest shale gas formation in the world. And it reaches Salliquelo, in the province of Buenos Aires, after traveling 573 kilometers.
They said it was impossible to do it in 8 months, but they and thousands like them made it possible.
— Sergio Massa (@SergioMassa) July 5, 2023
According to the state company Energia Argentina, in charge of the work carried out by a temporary union of private companies, the gas pipeline will save 4.2 billion dollars a year by substituting gas imports, something essential for a country in which what is scarce they are just currencies.
In addition, the gas pipeline is expected to extend to the north, to eventually supply gas to that region of the country and be able to reach Brazil, which would increase export revenues.
A celebration of democracy in Buenos Aires
The city of Buenos Aires organized for this Saturday, July 8, in the Plaza de Mayo, an event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the return of democracy to Argentina. In 1983 he was elected president, and the democratic government, Raul Alfonsin, took over after a military dictatorship that had taken power in 1976.
Source: France 24