Britain is preparing to offer Argentina improved diplomatic, political, and trade deals since the new more liberal government of President Javier Milei took office in the South American country.
The expected approach of a fresh start, and a relief for the Falkland Islands dispute, was anticipated at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, during a brief meeting and photo between British foreign minister Lord David Cameron and President Milei.
According to a piece by Marco Giannnangeli, Daily Express Defense and Diplomatic editor for nearly two decades, diplomatic relations between UK and Argentina have been strained after a succession of populist Peronist/Kirchner governments sought to apply more pressure over the Falklands issue.
Still present is the heated exchange back in 2013, between then Prime Minister Cameron and Argentine president Cristina Kirchner, at the corridors of the G20 summit in Mexico.
This contrasts with the meeting of Lord Cameron and president Milei at Davos, including a photo and a “warm and cordial” discussion setting out mutual support for a more constructive relationship between both countries, said an FCDO source.
The source added that the ample liberal Milei victory comes as a hammer blow to the “pink tide” in several South American countries. Furthermore, Milei is no supporter of China, withdrawing Argentina from negotiations to join Brics, the intergovernmental organization which includes China, Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and Iran, and vowing during his campaign that Argentina would “not align itself with Communists’.
However this does not mean tensions over the Falklands claim have been set to rest. In effect while both Cameron and Milei publicly “agreed to disagree” over the Islands, privately the Argentine president is expected to leave the matter simmering on low heat while he tackles painful economic challenges.
Argentina is currently sitting on 200% inflation (1,5% daily) and some US$ 500bn of debt – incurred by previous populist socialist governments delivering an over generous social welfare program – of which some US$ 150bn is owed to the International Monetary Fund. Nevertheless IMF is willing to lend Argentina an additional US$ 4.7bn conditioned to drastic action of to rectify the economy.
The aim now , Whitehall sources say, is for Britain to do what it can to help Milei reach his economic targets, giving him less reason to “press the Falklands button”.
UK-Argentina trade was worth a record £2.2bn last year – a 22% hike over the year before. Around £900 million of that was exports to Argentina such as mechanical power generators and refined oil, while £1.3 billion was imports like animal feed, beverages and tobacco.