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New Falklands Fireworks: Argentina Ups The Ante With Talk Of UK ‘Boycott’

Authorities in Buenos Aires are recommending that Argentine firms stop buying British goods. That may be easier said than done. Though Argentina doesn’t buy much from the UK, the British products it does import are difficult to find elsewhere.

This time, the Falkands peril is economic (Douglas Fernandes)
This time, the Falkands peril is economic (Douglas Fernandes)
Olivier Ubertalli

BUENOS AIRES A month before the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War on April 2, tensions between Buenos Aires and London are on the rise. What until now has been a purely diplomatic row is now beginning to take on an economic dimension.

This past Tuesday, the heads of some 20 leading firms in Argentina received a curious phone call – from Argentine Industry Minister Debora Giorgi. Her message was that the country's business leaders consider substituting purchases they currently make from Great Britain with products made in other countries.

Among the companies contacted was Syngenta, the world's leading agrochemical company, which buys pesticides in London; the Ford automobile company; and the pharmaceutical group Roemmers.

The move is mainly symbolic – a new way for Argentina to challenge Great Britain's continued claims on the Falkland Islands, which Argentines call the Malvinas. British-made products, after all, account for less than 1% of Argentina's total imports. In total, the South American country bought just under 500 million euros worth of British goods in 2011. But there is an economic motive as well: Buenos Aires is keen to maintain its trade surplus with the United Kingdom. The surplus, which now stands at just 77 million euros, shrunk between January and November 2011 by 60%.

"Countries that use colonialism..."

The ministry of industry stands fully behind this first step towards a boycott of British goods. "It's fundamental that Argentina decide for itself who its strategic trade partners are," the ministry explained in a press statement. "In this sense, the Argentine government is also sending a message to those countries that still use colonialism as a way to access far-away natural resources."

In recent years, British petroleum companies have taken initial steps toward exploiting the Falklands for its large oil deposits. The disputed islands lie some 500 kilometers off the Argentina coast.

London was quick to react. Downing Street called the measure "counter-productive" since "the United Kingdom is also a major investor in Argentina and we import goods from Argentina. It is not in Argentina's economic interest to put up barriers of this sort."

It remains to be seen how well Argentina's CEOs will follow the government's recommendation. "The pound sterling is one of the world's strongest currencies," notes Marcelo Elixondo, ex-president of the Argentine Export Foundation. That means that when an Argentine company buys British products, they do so not because it's cheap, "but because those products can't be found elsewhere," he says.

Read the original article in French

Photo - Douglas Fernandes

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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