Presidential hopeful Alberto Fernández has cast doubt on the Mercosur bloc's newly signed regional trade pact with Europe, placing a question mark over its future.
Fernández thumped President Mauricio Macri by 15 percentage points in Sunday's PASO primary voting, making his slate – which includes ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as his running mate – the clear leader for October's main election and prompting a stock market collapse among investors worried about their populist policies.
The Frente de Todos leader raised doubts Monday night about the European Union's trade deal with the South American trade bloc that was signed in June but not yet ratified.
"That agreement doesn't exist, never existed," he told Net TV. "They signed a sort of protocol letter in which they set out a series of topics to deal with."
The agreement has alarmed European farmers and South American manufacturers and service providers who fear they cannot compete with goods produced by the other partner in the deal.
Fernández said there is "no doubt" that the world has globalised, "and to renounce that is a stupidity, to deny that is a stupidity. The issue is how you enter into globalisation."
"We have to see what this agreement consists of," he added. He said there are some early indications that some aspects of the deal would be "disadvantageous for Argentina. If those things are fixed, welcome for Argentina."
Meanwhile, he heated up a feud with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has suggested that a Fernández government would be a disaster that would flood Brazil with Argentine refugees in the same way Venezuelans have fled their own country's economic collapse.
"In political terms, I have nothing to do with Bolsonaro," Fernández said, describing Brazil's leader as "a racist, a misogynist and violent, the sort of person who celebrates the torture of Dilma Rousseff" – a reference to Bolsonaro's praise for a man accused of overseeing the torture of Brazil's former leftist president.
Even so, Fernández said, "We are going to get on splendidly with Brazil. It is always going to be our principal partner."
He also had critical words for the socialist government of Venezuela, which was a close ally of his running mate when she was president in 2007 to 2015. Macri has warned that the Frente de Todos would turn Argentina into a version of Venezuela.
"“I have always said that Venezuela is an authoritarian regime and it is difficult to defend it. It is a government of democratic origin because people vote for it, but they have committed excesses," Fernández said of Venezuela.