Foreign policy and defense
Argentina is a nation in South America. Its capital city is Buenos Aires. After the military regime’s war against Britain over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) in 1982, Argentina had to fight for a long time to improve its international relations. From the late 1990s, contacts with neighboring countries have been given priority. Since the change of power in 2015, great emphasis has been placed on increased trade contacts with the US and other Western countries, and as the government has tried to maintain good relations with both China and Russia.
Argentina and neighboring countries
In 1995, Argentina formed the cooperation organization Mercosur together with Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, to promote trade. 2012 also joined Venezuela (however, the country has been shut down since 2016 when it is not considered to follow trade rules or respect democracy and human rights). The Mercosur countries are also part of the cooperation organization Unasur, which is intended to become a South American equivalent to the EU. The purpose was to counter US dominance in the region. Unasur was intended to merge the two Mercosur Customs Unions and the Andean Community. Under President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentine import restrictions created some friction. However, these were abolished by her successor Mauricio Macri. However, integration within Unasur has been poor and in 2018 six of the twelve Unasur countries canceled their participation in the Union.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Argentina for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Brazil is Argentina’s largest trading partner and the countries have close relations with each other. But economic crises have led to tensions as countries have taken measures to protect their own industries. Brazil and Argentina also compete for which country has the most influence in the region. At the same time, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay presented a joint proposal for a free trade agreement with the EU.
In 2005, for environmental reasons, Argentina opposed Uruguay to build two pulp mills on the Uruguay border. Argentina turned to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which, however, gave a provisional clearance and the World Bank granted a large loan for the projects. In 2006, Argentine environmental activists blocked bridges across the river in protest of the neighboring country going ahead with the factory plans. A Spanish company withdrew, while Finnish Botnia built its factory. In 2010, the dispute was settled by the International Court, which said that Uruguay should have informed Argentina of its plans to build the factories but that the operation did not violate any environmental requirements and could therefore continue.
However, relations have continued to be strained. However, they have improved since the change of power in 2015. Macri traveled to Uruguay on his first state visit as president. Since then, the countries have signed a series of bilateral agreements. Argentina has, among other things, abolished the rules prohibiting the import of Argentine goods into the country via Uruguayan ports. But Uruguay’s decision to build a new pulp mill in 2016 on a tributary to the Uruguay River has disturbed relations.
Argentina and Chile previously had several border disputes, partly on the oil-rich Beagle Canal in Eldslandet and partly on mineral-rich areas in the Andes, but these were resolved through several agreements in the 1980s and 1990s. Some friction was also caused by Argentina granting political asylum to a former Chilean guerrilla leader, Sergio Galvarino Apablaza Guerra, in 2010, who was wanted for a 1991 murder and kidnapping.
Under Néstor Kirchner’s rule (2003–2007), Argentina approached Cuba and, to an even greater extent, Venezuela, which became an important lender. His successor, wife Fernández de Kirchner (president 2007-2015), maintained close contacts with Venezuela, which was believed to have counteracted her ambition to approach the United States. In that case, Macri has succeeded better, he was reported to have had good contacts with US President Donald Trump. Among other things, Trump expressed strong support for Macri’s efforts to transform the Argentine economy, and also praised his way of dealing with the acute economic crisis in Argentina 2018.
Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru turned to the ICC in 2018 to investigate whether the Maduro regime committed crimes against humanity. In early 2019, Argentina officially recognized Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s interim president.
The question of the Falkland Islands
In 1990 Argentina reestablished diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom. The countries then agreed on how they would resolve a number of disputes around the Falkland Islands, including on fishing rights. But Argentina has maintained its claim to the islands with the support of other Latin American countries. In 2009, Argentina turned to the UN to formally claim large seas, including both the Falkland Islands and parts of Antarctica. The situation was spiked until 2010, when several companies would start drilling for oil and gas in the area. The Argentine president then decided that all vessels passing through Argentine waters on their way to the Falkland Islands must apply for a permit.
In the fall of 2010, Argentina lodged a formal protest with the UN against the British reinforcing its military presence around the disputed islands. The Argentine government saw military exercises in the region as a provocation directed at Argentina. Britain described the exercises as routine. Fernandez de Kirchner was supported in 2012 by all but two congressional parties for their attempts to get the British to the negotiating table. The tone increased further later that year, when British Prime Minister David Cameron accused Argentina of colonialism and later said that the Falkland Islands would remain British as long as the population there wished. In 2013, a referendum was held in which 99.8 percent of the residents voted to keep the area British.
The Argentine change of power in 2015 meant that the Falklands issue was toned down. The then Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra talked about more dialogue and cooperation with the British. One sign of how relations between the countries improved was when Britain’s then Foreign Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Argentina in May 2018. It was the first time in 25 years that a British Foreign Minister visited the country.
Dispute with Spain
Contacts with Spain, and the EU, deteriorated in 2012 when Argentina nationalized parts of the energy company YPF, where Spanish Repsol was the majority owner. However, the parties agreed in 2014 on a solution to the conflict.
Argentina and Iran
In 1994, a Jewish center in Buenos Aires was destroyed in a bomb attack that claimed 85 lives. People from the Iran-backed Hezbollah guerrilla in Lebanon were suspected of terrorist acts. They were also believed to have committed a bombing against the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. In 2006, Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani and eight others were formally prosecuted for involvement in the 1994 bombing, but none of them were extradited to Argentina. In 2013, Argentina and Iran agreed to form a commission to investigate what had happened, something that faced criticism from Argentine Jews, especially as the investigation was to be done in Iran. Later that year, the President of Argentina, in a speech at the UN General Assembly, called on Iran to fulfill its part of the agreement.
Contacts between Argentina and Iran improved from 2012 as trade between countries increased. Relations were complicated, however, in connection with the assassination of Prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January 2015 (see Calendar). Nisman accused then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman of blacklisting Iranian involvement in the terrorist attack in 1994., who was suspected of the act would be granted immunity from prosecution.
In a speech to the UN in September 2018, then-President Macri urged Iran to cooperate in the case to advance criminal investigation.
Great efforts are being made to obtain new trade contacts in both Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Trade relations with China have strengthened in recent years, and China has become an increasingly important investor in Argentina, not least in the oil industry. In 2010, the countries signed an agreement worth $ 37 million, which gave Chinese companies the right to search for minerals in Argentina. In the same year, the Chinese oil company CNOOC bought half of the British-Argentine oil company Bridas. In 2018, it became clear that a Chinese company will build a new nuclear power plant in Argentina. China is now the country’s second largest trading partner after Brazil. The US-China trade conflict has led China to buy even more soybeans from Argentina (and Brazil) than before).
In 2014 and 2015, it became clear that Russia was approaching Latin America, as a result of the EU and the US imposing trade sanctions on Moscow due to the crisis in Ukraine. In 2015, Fernández de Kirchner made a visit to Russia. The two countries then entered into a series of framework agreements on defense, energy and economic cooperation. The countries maintained good contacts even after the change of power in Argentina 2015. In 2017, Russia offered to assist Argentina in the search for a lost Argentine military submarine. In 2018, President Macri visited Moscow. He then expressed hopes that Argentina could increase its food exports to Russia. Discussions are also underway that a Russian company will build a nuclear power plant in Argentina.
The defense is now under civilian control. Defense forces have been drastically reduced since the beginning of the 1980s. In 1995, the military leadership offered prayer for abuse during the dictatorship.
The government’s decision in 2011 to allow the military to patrol the border in the north to combat drug smuggling was controversial. After the dictatorship years 1976–1983, the legislation states that the armed forces should not be responsible for the country’s internal security and that the military must not be used for law enforcement.
After Brazil and Colombia, Argentina is the Latin American country that spends the most money on defense. However, the modernization of the defense equipment initiated is hampered by lack of money. However, twelve new pilots training plans have been ordered from the United States.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 42 800 men (2017)
The air Force: 12,500 men (2017)
The fleet: 18 900 men (2017)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 0.9 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 2.2 percent (2017)
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is elected new president
Néstor Kirchner’s wife, Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, wins the presidential election where she has run for the Victory Front. She clearly wins with 45 percent of the vote, against 23 percent for Elisa Carrió of the center-left Alliance Citizens Coalition and 17 percent for Roberto Lavagna, Kirchner’s former finance minister. Fernández de Kirchner receives the most votes from the poor suburbs of Buenos Aires and the northern part of the country, but in the capital itself Carrió wins. In the congressional elections, the Kirchner faithful forces are strengthened. Before the election, Fernández de Kirchner received some criticism for not giving any clear information on what policy she intended to pursue.
The opposition accuses the government of secret electoral support from Venezuela
A Venezuelan businessman is arrested with a bag containing nearly $ 800,000 in cash. The arrest happens when he travels from Venezuela to Argentina with a plan chartered by a state-run Argentine company. Opposition parties accuse the government of receiving secret donations from Venezuela to fund the presidential election campaign.
Argentina loses environmental dispute against Uruguay
The international court in The Hague decides the dispute in which Argentina, for environmental reasons, opposed Uruguay to build two pulp mills on the Uruguay border. D he Court can, however, Uruguay’s line and the country gets the go-ahead to start with the construction.
Debt to the IMF is repaid
Argentina repays its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).