Argentina’s Fernández discusses lithium with Bolivia’s Morales

Fernández morales lithium
Evo Morales (left) and Alberto Fernández met in Buenos Aires this week. Photo: Twitter/@alferdez

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales met with Argentinian President Alberto Fernández in Buenos Aires this week. They talked about bilateral cooperation, the coming economic and political challenges in South America, and how lithium exports could boost the economies of both countries. 

Alongside Chile, Bolivia and Argentina are part of the so-called “lithium triangle.” The vast reserves thought to lie under the Salar de Uyuni in southwestern Bolivia have multiple international suitors — although the two countries have struggled to reach their full potential.

“The development of the lithium industry in Bolivia was a key government objective since the beginning of Evo Morales’ term (2006-2019),” said Johanna Maris, a senior analyst for Latin America country risk at S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

But the gamble on a model entirely reliant on state-owned companies proved to be a misstep, and current President Luis Arce called for proposals last year from companies using direct lithium extraction technology to launch pilot programs.

Messrs. Morales and Fernández have close political ties, with the Fernández administration having granted political asylum to Mr. Morales after his 2019 ousting in a military-backed coup. Three years after being pushed out of office, Mr. Morales remains a leading figure in Bolivian politics, and visited Buenos Aires on the behalf of President Luis Arce, his ally.