The government of the elected President of Argentina Javier Milei does not intend to join BRICS. This was stated by the future head of the Foreign Ministry of Argentina Diana Mondino. «We will not join BRICS», she wrote on the X website. And speaking to reporters at an event in Buenos Aires, Mondino generally questioned the value of the group, which includes Argentina’s two largest commercial partners, China and Brazil, among others.
«Thus», writes Argentine newspaper Página 12, «Mondino rejected the opportunities that the BRICS group offered Argentina in terms of trade, diplomatic cooperation, access to international financing and advanced technological developments. In addition, she rejected the idea of strengthening trade relations among developing powers as opposed to the economic forces of the G7, composed of the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada».
Let me remind you, Argentina was among the six countries invited in August this year to join the bloc consisting of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa. Argentina was to become a full member of BRICS on January 1, 2024.
Rejection from BRICS means a radical shift in foreign policy with unpredictable consequences for Argentina once the libertarian-populist Milei takes office on December 10 this year.
The future Milei government’s stance on BRICS has been closely watched around the world. Basically, during his election campaign, the future president nicknamed El Loco («The Psycho», «The Madman») has already defined three directions of his government’s foreign and trade policy. These are, first and foremost, a blatant demonstration of «the closest allied ties» with the Global North — the United States, Israel and the West. Milei has made it clear that he «plans to align Argentina’s interests with those of the United States».
Second, «I will not push or promote relations with dictatorships, communists, those who do not value peace or do not adhere to democratic values». At the same time, thirdly, he contradicts his own point two by claiming that businessmen are «free to trade with whoever they want» (so with «communists» too?).
The first point is already being strictly fulfilled by Milei. Two weeks before the inauguration, he made a private trip to Washington, D.C., where he apparently received pointed instructions in a meeting with the president’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and the National Security Council’s Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere, Juan Gonzalez. Milei called the meeting «extraordinary».
It’s unclear whether President Joe Biden will be at his inauguration, but Donald Trump seems likely to be the most welcome guest at the celebration. Trump’s advisers pointed to Milei’s victory as a sign that «2024 will be a good year for other right-wing politicians», including, they hope, their boss.
At the same time, his economic team held a meeting with IMF staff, which has many questions to Buenos Aires. Argentina is by far the largest global debtor of the Washington lender, its program of debt repayment in the amount of $57 billion from 2018 and the way out of the financial and economic crisis «went off the rails», and the IMF lost patience, writes Bloomberg. In this case, Milei, as promised, will defend the interests of the United States, and not Argentina at all.
Milei categorically condemned Russia’s «invasion» in Ukraine during the election campaign and was not «particularly kind» in his comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin. His first phone call to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky after winning the election was to praise Ukraine’s «ongoing military counteroffensive» and promise to hold the much-anticipated «Ukraine-Latin America summit». Argentine media noted that if Milei turns out to be a «cornerstone» of support for Kiev in Latin America, where Putin is largely favored, it «could put him in a delicate position».
His position stands in stark contrast to that of many other Latin American leaders, including Presidents Lula of Brazil, Lopez Obrador of Mexico and Petro of Colombia, who are not particularly supportive of Ukraine and Israel.
The second point proved more difficult. As a self-appointed «defender of freedom», Milei, rejecting «communist» countries, by which he means not only China, but also Brazil and the Vatican (!?), called the Chinese leadership «murderers» and threatened to sever diplomatic relations with Beijing. This despite the fact that China is Argentina’s №1 trading partner. China’s demand for Argentine commodities, in particular, is absolutely necessary if Milei hopes to improve the economy. Página 12 newspaper published data from a recent report by the Rosario Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Comercio de Rosario, BCR), which found that «at least one-third of the exports of most Argentine provinces go to BRICS countries», especially China, Brazil and India.
«It would be a serious mistake on Argentina’s part to cut ties with great powers such as China or Brazil. China is an important trading partner of Argentina», Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a Nov. 21 briefing in Beijing.
This somewhat sobered the «hotheads» of the advisers of Milei, who immediately changed his tone. And already in response to the letter personally handed to Milei by the leader of China’s Communists, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, he expressed his gratitude to the «murderer»: «I thank President Xi Jinping for the congratulations and good wishes that he sent me in his letter. I send you my most sincere wishes for the well-being of the people of China».
Similarly, Milei invited Lula, whom he called «corrupt and communist» and with whom he «does not intend to speak if elected», to his inauguration — Milei needs trade with Brazil. He had to change his tone and refrain from other further potential confrontations with international leaders.
If the influence of China and Brazil in Argentina under Milei falls to a minimum, the influence of the United States, historically low in Argentina, will grow to a maximum. And this, experts note, is not exactly in the interests of the United States, which is now threatened to fatten up Milei. After all, in this case, Washington will have to take on its already weakened shoulders one more sponger country. And there is no extra money, even if you launch an additional printing press for Argentina.
As a result, in interviews with Argentine media, the president-elect and his team replaced the anger they unleashed on the «communists» during the campaign against China and Brazil with mercy. «The bad news» is that Milei’s «bouts of moderation», according to Clarín, Argentina’s largest newspaper, are not so frequent and do not last long. So, pragmatism in foreign and economic policy will often depend on the immediate mood and «prophecies» of the mastiffs, a small pack of cloned dogs with whom the president-elect communicates through mediums.
But the impact on this and all the other already mentioned foreign policy points will ultimately be determined by the state of Argentina’s economy.
«Simply put, Milei’s options will be severely limited if the economy collapses in the coming months», says James Bosworth, founder of Hxagon, a political risk analysis and customized emerging market investigations company. — «China’s aversion will quickly fade if it forces Beijing to demand repayment of credit lines already extended to Argentina or cut off access to future handouts. Milei also won’t hold any summit on Ukraine if Argentines take to the streets to protest cuts in government benefits or continued high inflation».
By the way, Miley is taking over a country with inflation approaching 150%, foreign exchange reserves that are in the negative, and a looming recession.
And in these circumstances, Argentina’s future foreign minister, Diana Mondino, rejected a proposal made this year by BRICS members to include the South American country in a bloc that accounts for 40% of the world’s population, 24% of global GDP, 16% of exports and 15% of global imports of goods and services. And that could really pull Argentina out of the debt hole. Moreover, 30% of Argentina’s exports go to the countries of the association.
As for BRICS, Milei’s reversal, given the state of his country’s economy, will most likely not have much impact on the development of this organization. Especially since the vacated space is already claimed by 17 countries that have officially applied to join this international union. Among them only from Latin America, according to South Africa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, are Bolivia, Venezuela, Honduras, and Cuba.
Venezuela hopes to join BRICS during 2024, Bolivarian Foreign Minister Ivan Gil Pinto told Izvestia.
Two weeks before his inauguration, libertarian Javier Milei decided to change his religious affiliation and convert from Catholicism to Judaism. In New York in all black, writes RIA Novosti, he «put a mourning kippah on his head» and visited the grave of Menachem Schneerson, the last rabbi of this dynasty of the Chabad Hasidic movement, a native of the city of Nikolaev, who, «according to some of his followers, was the messiah and is not really dead». Milei also had a conversation with another rabbi and took part in «some kind of Jewish ceremony», which is quite possibly part of his conversion to Judaism. Milei appears to be ready to circumcise himself, and at the same time all Argentines.