Home » US Praises Argentina’s Economic Reforms, Eyes Lithium Deals

US Praises Argentina’s Economic Reforms, Eyes Lithium Deals

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken praises Argentina's economic reforms and eyes lithium deals with the new president Javier Milei.

by Victor Adetimilehin

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed strong support for Argentina’s new president Javier Milei, who is implementing a radical plan to stabilize the country’s economy and attract foreign investment. Blinken also highlighted the potential for US involvement in Argentina’s booming lithium sector, which is crucial for the global transition to clean energy.

A Positive Meeting

Blinken met with Milei on Friday at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires, in the most high-level visit by a US official since Milei took office in December 2023. Milei, a libertarian economist and former TV pundit, won a landslide victory on a platform of free-market reforms, dollarization, and pro-Western foreign policy.

Blinken praised Milei’s efforts to rein in inflation, which soared to over 250% in January 2024, and to reduce the fiscal deficit and public debt. “The work that’s being done to stabilize the economy is absolutely vital,” Blinken said at a joint press conference, calling his meeting with Milei “incredibly positive.”

Milei said that Argentina had decided to “return to the side of the West, to the side of progress, democracy and, above all, freedom.” He also thanked the US for its support for Ukraine, which has been under Russian aggression since 2022, and for Israel, which faced a Hamas attack in October 2023. Milei condemned the authoritarian regimes of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and said he hoped to deepen cooperation with the US on security and human rights issues.

A Lithium Partnership

Blinken also said that the US saw “extraordinary opportunity” in Argentina, especially in the lithium sector. Argentina has the world’s second-largest lithium reserves, mostly located in the arid highlands of the Andes. Lithium is a key component of batteries for electric vehicles and other renewable energy technologies.

Blinken said that the US was exploring investment opportunities in critical minerals, such as lithium, through its International Development Finance Corporation and a new Minerals Security Partnership. He said that the US wanted to be Argentina’s partner of choice in developing its lithium resources in a sustainable and responsible way.

Argentina is expected to become the world’s largest producer of lithium from evaporative mining by 2027, thanks to its 13 projects under development and dozens more under consideration. The country hopes to benefit from the global demand for lithium, which is projected to increase 40-fold by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.

A Controversial Trip

Blinken’s visit to Argentina came just hours before Milei flew to Washington to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, a major event for the American right-wing, where former President Donald Trump was also scheduled to speak. Milei has been compared to Trump and other populist leaders, such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, for his flamboyant personality and controversial statements.

Blinken declined to comment on Milei’s participation in the conference, saying that it was “a decision for the president of Argentina to make.” He said that the US respected Argentina’s sovereignty and democracy, and that the bilateral relationship was based on shared values and interests.

Argentina’s Foreign Minister Diana Mondino did not confirm whether Milei would meet with Trump, but said that the two leaders had “a lot in common” and that Milei admired Trump’s economic policies. She said that Milei’s trip to the US was an opportunity to showcase Argentina’s new direction and to attract more investors and allies.

Blinken arrived in Buenos Aires on Thursday after visiting Brazil, where he met with former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is leading the polls for the 2024 election. Lula, a left-wing leader, has clashed with the US over his criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza and his support for Iran’s nuclear program.

A Note of Hope

Despite the political and ideological differences, Blinken said that the US was committed to working with Argentina and other countries in the region to address the common challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change, poverty, corruption, and human rights. He said that the US and Argentina had a long history of friendship and cooperation, and that he was confident that they could build a brighter future together.

Source: Reuters 

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