Argentine Candidate Milei Backtracks on Changes to Trade Relations With Brazil, China

Javier Milei said at an event in Buenos Aires on Thursday that, if elected in October, his government would be aligned with the US and Israel, and that he would not interfere in the private sector’s foreign trade

Photographer: Erica Canepa/Bloomberg
August 24, 2023 | 05:45 PM

Read this story in


Buenos Aires — Argentine presidential candidate Javier Milei presented his diagnosis of the country’s economic challenges before hundreds of business leaders on Thursday during a conference organized by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, together with the Argentine Chamber of Commerce and Services.

Looting Across Argentina Sparks Blame Game Between Government and Milei

Expectations were high among the executives, who in addition to listening to Milei heard his rival for the presidency Patricia Bullrich beforehand. However, the one who captured the most the attention was the candidate of La Libertad Avanza, the most-voted-for candidate in the primaries of August 13.

Milei sought the support of the business community, which only responded with applause once his speech was over. But he also confronted them, and accused a sector of the business community of being accomplices of the “crimes” committed by the Argentine state.

Who is Javier Milei, the Central Bank-Hating Economist Who Upended Argentine Polls?

Trade with Brazil and China

On a day that dawned with the invitation to Argentina to participate in the BRICS economic bloc, and Patricia Bullrich’s rejection of such a move, Milei insisted that in an eventual presidency he will align himself with the United States and Israel, but that this “does not mean that the private sector cannot trade with whomever it wants”.


“I am not saying that one should not trade with Brazil or China, I am saying that it is a private sector issue that I don’t have to get involved in,” he added.

This stance contrasts with comments made earlier this month in an interview with Bloomberg, in which Milei said he would seek to abandon Mercosur, the South American trade bloc that also includes Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, and freeze trade with China.

Monetary issuance as theft

“In the last 20 years, Argentines were robbed of $280 billion. The current government, or un-government, is surpassing $90 billion, and in annual terms they are stealing $25 billion. Why do they allow this swindle in the hands of criminals?”, asked Milei, who pledged to “get the state off people’s backs”.


On the sidelines of the event, after a speech that lasted about an hour, there was agreement among the business leaders regarding Milei’s diagnosis and his proposals for change, but also doubts regarding his capacity to carry them out and the support he might obtain to achieve them.

What Is Libertarian Candidate Javier Milei’s Plan for Argentina’s Economy?

Fiscal reforms

The libertarian candidate assured that in a first phase of reforms he would advance toward a reduction of fiscal spending, tax cuts and deregulation. In addition, he would promote the privatization of public companies and “put an end to political privileges”.

In this way, he would seek to achieve financial equilibrium, he said.

“Zero fiscal deficit and having additional resources to undertake the fiscal reform and simplification of the Argentine tax system to bring it to 10 taxes with the agreement of the provinces”, he said.

He said this would allow, on the one hand a “cannon of fund flows” to companies to invest, while the removal of regulations would generate a better framework “to do business”.

Dollarization ‘Not the Answer’ for Argentina, Former IMF Board Member Says