This opinion piece was published in the Buenos Aires Herald
 
President Obama’s visit to Buenos Aires this week may not get as many headlines in the United States as his stop in Cuba, but it promises to open a new chapter in US relations with Argentina.  
 
The close US-Argentina relations of the1990s were shattered in the wake of Argentina’s 1998-2002 financial crisis and then further strained during the years when Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner successively held the presidency.  Relations were particularly cool in recent years, as Argentina moved closer to the leftist approach of Venezuela. Now, with the election of Mauricio Macri as Argentina’s President and the prospect of agreement on repaying Argentina’s international bond holders, the stage is set for improving US-Argentine cooperation and stronger commercial ties. This shift may be gradual reflecting the shifting sands of Argentine politics, but the opportunities are promising after years of tense relations.
 
Mauricio Macri proved his mettle and won popular support as the opposition mayor of Buenos Aires. Despite much pressure from the federal government, he stuck with his support for democratic practices and the important role of private enterprise in generating growth, while proving to be a good steward of Argentina’s largest city.  
 
Since his narrow electoral victory in December, Macri and his team have taken a number of steps to get Argentina’s economy back on track and to return Argentina to the international financial markets. Macri has expressed interest in regaining a relationship of trust with the IMF and in eventually joining the TPP. The agreement to pay international bondholders with claims from the time of Argentina’s financial crisis, if approved by Argentina’s Congress, could well allow the government to access enough international capital to support its gradualist strategy for handling Argentina’s high inflation, for attracting investment and for spurring economic growth. However, Macri needs to build coalitions with some of those currently in the opposition in Argentina’s Congress, if his reform plans are to proceed.  
 
While doing this work at home, Macri is charting a more independent course in foreign policy than his left-leaning predecessors. Macri did not hesitate to express strong support for democracy and the political opposition in Venezuela: a welcome message that many others in Latin America have hesitated to send publicly. Macri also plans to travel to Havana in April to support the Colombian peace process, and is expected to raise human rights with Cuban leaders.
 
In this context, President Obama’s visit represents a hand extended to a hemispheric partner that seems ready to reengage constructively in the international arena with the United States, Europe and other democratic nations. Although the U.S. and Argentina have much in common – our countries have traditionally welcomed large numbers of immigrants, for example - the history and reality of US-Argentine relations is complicated.  Argentines both admire the US and have registered some of the highest measured levels of Anti-Americanism in Latin America during the last decade. There are a number of reasons for this, including a feeling that the US left Argentines to suffer terribly after their economic crisis at the turn of the century: a view fed by the last two Argentine presidents. At the same time, Argentines admire much about the US, including many aspects of our creative culture, and despite the autocratic approaches of their last two presidents, we do share a basic support for democratic values.  Argentina is also a country filled with very creative people, many of whom value entrepreneurial spirit, and it is blessed with vast natural resources.  
 
The US and Argentina have a long history of trade and investment. Many US companies maintained their presence in Argentina through economic and political downturns as well as during the good times. A range of US companies from a variety of sectors are signaling that they are ready to make new investments if the Argentine government is able to put macroeconomic challenges behind it and assure rule of law.  
 
The opportunities for collaboration are not limited to commercial affairs. When we served as US Ambassadors to Argentina from 2003-2009, we had growing bilateral cooperation against drug trafficking, terrorism and trafficking in persons, for example, as well as in supporting educational and scientific exchanges. We expect that bilateral cooperation should flourish in these and related areas. Argentina is also a member of the G20 where it can contribute constructively to managing the world economy, while it can join with like-minded countries to promote democracy and market-based growth both in the hemisphere and in the UN system.
 
President Obama’s agenda in Argentina includes official meetings and a state dinner hosted by President Macri in Buenos Aires on March 23. The two presidents will reportedly discuss strengthening cooperation on citizen security and law enforcement, renewable energy and climate change, trade and investment, as well as on science and peacekeeping operations.
 
President Obama’s visit may not immediately open floodgates of cooperation, but it can and should signal a new era of opportunity and collaboration between the United States and Argentina.
 
E. Anthony Wayne and Lino Gutierrez served as successive US Ambassadors to Argentina from 2003 to 2009.  Wayne is currently a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.