Trade, disarmament top agenda of SovietArgentine talks
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is meeting in Moscow this week with Ra'ul Alfons'in, the first Argentine President ever to visit the Soviet Union. The five-day visit, which began Monday, marks the growing significance of trade relations between the two countries. It also points to a new emphasis in Soviet foreign policy on closer ties with the more important capitalist-oriented developing countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Mr. Gorbachev is expected to make a reciprocal visit here during his Latin American tour next year.
The agenda for the Moscow talks, Mr. Alfons'in's aides say, includes international tensions, nuclear disarmament, and Central America, as well as bilateral trade issues.
The two leaders face some tough discussions as they try to deal with the huge trade imbalance between their countries. The Soviet Union's trade deficit with Argentina reached $1.6 billion in 1985.
Moscow is now the principal buyer of Argentina's grains, and absorbs about one-third of its exportable goods. Argentina achieved this position in the early 1980s, following a US embargo on grain sales to the Soviet Union. The embargo, since lifted, came in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Though the Soviet Union has fallen behind in this year's purchases of Argentine grain, its rejection of a United States offer of subsidized grains was seen here as a positive signal. The Soviet commercial attach'e in Buenos Aires said recently that the Soviet Union intends to honor the agreement signed last year to purchase 4.5 million tons of grains annually for the next five years.
At the same time, Moscow is looking to Buenos Aires to take steps to reduce its trade surplus, despite Argentina's $50 billion foreign debt. The Soviet Union's target is to raise its exports to $500 million, and Soviet economic planners are likely to agree to further growth in trade only if Argentina imports higher levels of Soviet goods.