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Big Tech is cozying up to Argentina's firebrand president as it sets its sights on the country's 'white gold'

Polly Thompson   

Big Tech is cozying up to Argentina's firebrand president as it sets its sights on the country's 'white gold'
  • Argentina's President Javier Milei is in the US to meet with leaders of the world's biggest tech companies.
  • Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Elon Musk have all agreed to meet with him, his spokesman said.

Argentina's President Javier Milei has landed in the US.

But rather than an official meeting with President Joe Biden, he's headed to the West Coast to meet with the leaders of Silicon Valley.

Milei's schedule includes private meetings with three of tech's biggest names: Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple boss Tim Cook, and Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg.

He is also reportedly meeting with representatives from OpenAI, as well as SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk — his second catchup with the billionaire in a month.

Alongside top tech names, the South American leader and former TV pundit is scheduled to speak at Stanford University and meet entrepreneurs from several AI startups.

The embrace of Argentina's right-wing, libertarian leader in tech circles is thought to be related to the country's bountiful and largely untapped lithium resources. Musk was "extremely interested" in Argentine lithium during their previous meeting, Milei said.

Argentina is home to some of the largest known deposits of the metal, which is used to power batteries in cellphones, laptops, and electric vehicles. Such is lithium's value in the modern world that it is known in some circles as "white gold."

With a number of development projects in the pipeline, Argentina's lithium production could triple this year, according to S&P Global.

For Milei, networking with Silicon Valley leaders could help draw investment into Argentina's tech and space sectors, which are advancing despite the country's devastating economic crisis.

Since Milei's inauguration in December 2023, monthly inflation rates have declined, however, annual price growth still remains at almost 300%, the AP recently reported.

However, the self-proclaimed "anarcho-capitalist" is facing widespread national protests against his austerity measures, which include slashing public spending and removing fuel and transport subsidies.

On his way home from the US, he will stop off at the second-term inauguration of Salvadorian leader Nayib Bukele.

Representatives for Apple, Meta, and Alphabet did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.


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