BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri heads to Europe this weekend on a mission to strengthen trade ties with its powerful economy after 12 years of isolation under his leftist predecessors.
The conservative leader of Latin America’s third-biggest economy was due to leave for France Friday before visiting Belgium and Germany on a six-day tour.
He is set to hold an informal meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Saturday afternoon, Macri’s office said.
Over the following days, he will travel to Brussels and meet with the president of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, among other officials.
In Germany, he will have a working lunch with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday before leaving on Wednesday.
Macri, 57, has said he wants to draw $20 billion of foreign investment to Argentina as he opens up the economy.
He has been scrapping the protectionist policies of his predecessor Cristina Kirchner since taking office in December.
However, his critics say his austere economic fiscal policies are hurting the poor.
Macri wants to boost the South American trade bloc Mercosur’s bonds with other countries in the region and eventually forge trade alliances with Europe and the rest of the world.
Officials in Macri’s office who asked not be named said the German leg of the trip would be “the most important in terms of concrete business meetings.”
He would meet with executives from companies such as Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen and Siemens, they said.
“There has been total political change in Argentina,” Macri told leaders at a meeting of the Pacific Alliance, which groups several other Latin American countries, on Thursday. “This change means we want to be part of the world scene,” he said. “We want to be part of the solution to global problems.” AFP