President Alberto Fernández has presented BRICS-led New Development Bank President Dilma Rousseff with a formal letter kickstarting Argentina’s incorporation into the trade bloc’s multilateral financial institution.
The meeting took place at the bank’s Shanghai headquarters on Tuesday. Fernández is in China for the country’s third Belt and Road Initiative forum for international cooperation, which is taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The president announced in August that Argentina will be one of six countries to join BRICS, the trade bloc of emerging economies that currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, on January 1, 2024.
Fernández described Argentina’s adhesion to BRICS as a “unique opportunity to open new markets, consolidate existing ones, favor investment flows, increase exports, and develop the application of new and better technologies.”
“It’s a great joy to receive the president of Argentina in the bank’s headquarters,” said Rousseff, a center-left former president of Brazil. She added that Fernández’s formal request for entry would be examined by the bank’s administrative council.
The upcoming elections raise questions over how Argentina’s relationship with BRICS will proceed. A new government will take power on December 10. Hard-right presidential frontrunner Javier Milei has said he would not do business with “communists,” which he claims includes China and Brazil.
Patricia Bullrich of the opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio, which finished second in the August primaries, said immediately after Fernández’s announcement that she would not bring Argentina into the bloc. She reiterated her position in an interview with the Financial Times over the weekend, adding that she would keep doing business with the country but “re-examine” the conditions of some Chinese loans to Argentina.
The latest Belt and Road Initiative forum in Beijing, which is centered around China’s flagship infrastructure development policy, has drawn diplomats and other representatives from developing and emerging market countries.
Fernández has also held meetings with Chinese companies, including tech giant Huawei and a number of mining and energy interests.