Bolsonaro Says Trade With Argentina Will Go On Despite Fernandez

Murilo Fagundes and Simone Iglesias
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Bolsonaro Says Trade With Argentina Will Go On Despite Fernandez

(Bloomberg) -- President Jair Bolsonaro said trade with Argentina “will remain the same” despite his animosity with President-elect Alberto Fernandez but didn’t confirm whether Brazil will send a high-ranking representative to his inauguration in Buenos Aires.

Asked whether he had changed plans to send Citizenzhip Minister Osmar Terra to Fernandez’s swearing-in, Bolsonaro on Monday said he’s analyzing Argentina’s guest list before deciding whether to send an official to the Dec. 10 ceremony.

Over the weekend, the Brazilian president ordered Terra’s trip to Buenos Aires to be canceled and opted to send no cabinet member to the inauguration of his political adversary, according to a Brazilian official with direct knowledge of the matter.

For now, Brazil’s ambassador to Argentina, Sergio Danese, will represent the government at the event, according to the presidency’s press office.

Relations between Brazil and Argentina, which are traditionally political and trade allies, have worsened in recent weeks amid an ideological clash between Fernandez’s left-wing movement and Bolsonaro’s hard-right administration. The spat has also raised prospects that Latin America’s largest economy may pull out of the Mercosur customs union - which counts Brazil and Argentina as its two largest members - if differences persist.

Citizenship Minister

Hours after his election victory, Fernandez set the stage for the first diplomatic tiff between the two countries by calling for the release of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a leftist icon and Bolsonaro adversary. Bolsonaro said he wouldn’t call Fernandez to congratulate him and wouldn’t attend the Argentine presidential inauguration, marking the first time in recent history for a Brazilian head of state.

Read more: Bolsonaro to Skip Fernandez Inauguration as Argentina Spat Grows

Newspaper Clarin reported that Bolsonaro changed plans to send Terra to Buenos Aires because he was annoyed by a Brazilian delegation led by lower house Speaker Rodrigo Maia, which met Fernandez in Argentina last week.

Bolsonaro was aware of the delegation’s travel plans, Clarin reported Maia as saying. Terra had been preparing to meet with both Fernandez and outgoing President Mauricio Macri, as well as local business leaders.

To contact the reporters on this story: Murilo Fagundes in Brasilia at mfagundes3@bloomberg.net;Simone Iglesias in Brasília at spiglesias@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Walter Brandimarte at wbrandimarte@bloomberg.net, Matthew Malinowski

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