When Mauricio Macri was elected president in 2015, there was a glimmer of hope for Mercosur to finally open up. Macri has been at the forefront of reviving external negotiations, which were concluded with an agreement between Mercosur and the European Union after more than 20 years of stalled negotiations. This hope grew with the strong attitude of the Brazilian Minister of Finance, Paulo Guedes, under President Bolsonaro. However, Argentina`s decision, led by President Fernandez, to withdraw from negotiations with Mercosur – even if it returned later – raised a question mark over how Mercosur will continue to operate. Recent political instability in Brazil has further dampened expectations. Argentina has a trade surplus with Canada, but bilateral trade is concentrated on a limited number of products. In 2017, Argentina`s exports to the Canadian market totaled $1.3 billion, mainly from mineral resources (85% of total exports), food and industry. In November 2004, at a meeting between the Brazilian President and the Prime Minister of Canada, a joint statement was made to “negotiate” a commitment to promote Mercosur`s trade relationship with Canada through “negotiations to improve market access in goods, services and investments as part of the creation of a future free trade area for the United States (CCF). In February 2005, MERCOSUR and Canada held preliminary discussions at the first meeting of the Canada-MERCSOUR Trade and Investment Dialogue. Canada is currently conducting exploratory discussions on bilateral or multilateral free trade agreements with the following countries and trading blocs, although formal negotiations have not yet begun: Canada is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with Mercosur, a trade bloc and a customs union between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Mercosur as a bloc represents a GDP of more than $3 trillion and a population of 261 million in 2019. At the end of April, Argentina announced to its Mercosur partners, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, that they would withdraw from trade negotiations already concluded with the European Union and the European Free Trade Association. This unilateral decision caused shockwaves on the part of Mercosur, as it implied a possible dissolution of the trading bloc. However, Argentina`s decision was later overturned and Mercosur`s partners are now considering how they can make progress despite each country`s competing priorities. Although Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay are interested in new trade agreements with other countries such as Canada, South Korea and Singapore, the von Fernandez government has reversed Argentina`s liberal stance and does not support the idea of new trade agreements. Both of these situations would be a disaster for the Argentine economy. One of the cornerstones of industrial production that is still inefficient is the ability to sell to Brazil at zero tariffs, while competitors have to pay for THE ECTs. If Brazil signs many trade agreements, Argentine companies will be subject to stiff global competition in the Brazilian market, without having the advantage of accessing new markets opened by trade agreements for Brazilian companies.
Canada`s Emerging Leaders program offers students from Latin America and the Caribbean, including Argentina, short-term scholarships to study or research in Canada. These university agreements help promote research cooperation and student exchanges. Since 2009, nearly 250 Argentine students have participated in exchanges of studies or research at the university, at the bachelor and graduate level. In addition, the International Development Research Centre supports research in Argentina to promote growth and development. Argentinian researchers focus on issues such as the labour market, women`s and youth employment, issues related to Mercosur trade and integration, alternatives to the tobacco industry and the country`s efforts to help strengthen democracy and rebuild Haiti.