Diana Mondino: ‘We will not join BRICS’

After hints made to press at an industrial conference, Milei’s future foreign minister confirmed that Argentina would not join the bloc on X (Twitter)

Future foreign minister Diana Mondino confirmed via social media on Thursday that Argentina will not enter the BRICS bloc under president-elect Javier Milei’s new administration. 

“We will not join BRICS,” she wrote on her X account.

Last October, President Alberto Fernández announced that Argentina had “begun the admission process” to enter BRICS. The only remaining step was for the country to make a capital contribution in order to join and start receiving benefits through loans. Earlier on Thursday, Mondino claimed that the country’s entry into the BRICS bloc was “never approved.” 

Two weeks ago, the future foreign minister stated that she didn’t see any “advantages” in Argentina’s admission to the bloc, scheduled for January 1 2024 — the country is set to join alongside Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates. 

Created in 2006, the BRICS bloc is an economic, political and social association formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Regarded as the paradigm of South-South cooperation, the group gathers the five most promising emerging national economies in the 2000s. Together, they make up 42% of the world’s population and almost a fourth of the global GDP. Argentina’s goal in joining BRICS was to access new forms of financing that wouldn’t come with the same conditions as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Following her remarks to the press, Mondino spoke at the Argentine Industrial Union’s 29th annual conference where she highlighted the benefits of a potential Mercosur-European Union agreement and the “monumental” trade opportunities it could create for Argentina.

“We would be grateful if outgoing president Alberto Fernández could finish the deal between Mercosur and the European Union,” she said. 

While Argentine companies will have to face what she described as “exaggerated and expensive regulations,” entering into that deal “removes the discretional element from the Argentine resolution.”

“We could move forward with EFTA, Singapore, ASEAN. Huge doors would open,” Mondino added. “True, some might have a problem with something, but if we wait until everyone is content, no one will be.”

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Price caps, tax reductions, and trade regulations

At the conference, the future foreign minister also outlined the incoming administration guidelines on other issues regarding international relations and lifting regulations on foreign trade

“There’s a huge amount of regulations, including one that says Argentina considers, for some mysterious reason, that dollars don’t belong to the exporters but to the Central Bank,” she said. “So, the first thing to do, not on December 11, but as soon as possible, is to get to a situation where dollars belong to the exporters, and they pay taxes. But that is essential to give people an incentive.”

Mondino said that it’s necessary to “reverse the way the Foreign Ministry works” so it’s not up to the ministry or its officials to decide whether exporting a product is convenient or not, but leave that decision to the private sector, which would analyze costs and then convey their decision to the diplomatic core so they eliminate a regulation that prevents them to trade.

“There will be two areas [in the Foreign Ministry] where the private sector will have a dominant role to create and promote exports,” she said. 

Mondino also discussed reducing taxes and labor and social security reforms: “We need to drastically simplify [taxes], some things are taxed three times.” She also questioned why the Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline “had to be owned by the state.”

Before entering the conference, Mondino had also raised the issue of price controls

“Price caps, the Precios Cuidados [price agreement scheme], they all need to disappear. We shouldn’t have any price controls; that never worked,” Mondino said. “If you free prices, companies will do their best.”

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—with information from Télam and Ambito.com


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