Photo/IllutrationArgentine President Mauricio Macri is interviewed by The Asahi Shimbun in a suburb of Buenos Aires on Nov. 18. (Ary Kaplan Nakam)

BUENOS AIRES--Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who has maintained close ties with Donald Trump for many years, warned against optimism that the U.S. president-elect will take a flexible stance after his inauguration.

“(Trump) is a bold and aggressive person who pushes his pet theories and pushes through them,” Macri, 57, said in an exclusive interview with The Asahi Shimbun on Nov. 18, before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official visit to Argentina.

Like Trump, 70, Macri used to be a businessman. He has gotten to know Trump’s personality and management skills since the 1980s.

During the U.S. election campaign, Macri expressed his support for Hillary Clinton, calling Trump an “eccentric person.”

The Democrat was expected to follow the course of U.S. President Barack Obama, but Republican Trump scored an upset victory in the Nov. 8 election.

Macri said he called Trump to offer his congratulations.

“He won the election while making many people his enemy. That shows that his capabilities and insights are excellent,” Macri said.

Trump welcomed his call, he added.

Following are excerpts from the interview:

Question: What do you expect from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official visit to Argentina?

Answer: Japan is one of the most powerful and innovative countries. From my heart, I hope for a construction of strategic relations. I want to expect an expansion of investments from Japan.

Q: In what fields do you expect investments?

A: I hope that Japanese companies make inroads in such fields as infrastructure improvement, mining and agricultural product processing. Argentina is also an attractive country in tourism. If travel companies make inroads, they will go well.

Argentina is also a major food producing country. We want to expand our exports to Japan. We respect Japanese people who are diligent and have innovative capabilities, and we also hope for new Japanese immigrants to Argentina.

Q: The preceding administration took protectionist measures, didn’t it?

A: My new administration made a complete volte-face. We repaid debts and eliminated restrictions on foreign currencies. Investments will expand and jobs will increase. It is not necessary to worry about investment risks in Argentina.

Q: The preceding administration also had deep relations with China, didn’t it?

A: My administration aims to establish better relations with all countries. We don’t want to lose our long and abundant relations with Japan. I hold deep respect for the Japanese people, their culture and their capabilities. We need partners like Japan.

Q: What do you think about the future of the Common Market of the South (consisting of several South American countries)?

A: It has to have ties with the world. At present, it is negotiating with the European Union about a free trade agreement. The integration with the Pacific Alliance (consisting of some Central and South American countries) is also an ideal. All of Central and South America must unite. If they do so, they can proceed with negotiations for a free trade agreement with Japan.

Q: What do you think about negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement?

A: I hope that the negotiations will make further progress. Although (Donald) Trump is casting doubts on the TPP, it is a very favorable move. We have interests in it as an observer.

Q: I hear that you have known Trump for many years. What type of person is he?

A: He is a person who is bold and aggressive and pushes through his opinions. Trump has his opinions and will try to push them.

Q: What relations have you had with him?

A: Many years ago, we concluded a business contract with him. At one time, we had close relations. I played golf with him and discussed businesses. I also took meals and exchanged opinions with him.

Q: What did you say to Trump in your (congratulatory) call to him?

A: We promised to establish the best bilateral relations ever. I hope that our good relations with the United States, seen under U.S. President Barack Obama, will continue and expand further under Trump. In the call, I also talked with his daughter. I have known her since her infant days.

Q: If businessmen become politicians, what are merits?

A: Those who bear responsibilities for paying salaries and maintaining employment can understand what people are seeking. It has a big meaning amid the current situation in which many leaders of the world are not interested in demands from their people. In the 21st century, technological innovation is depriving workers of their jobs. What is necessary is creativity to produce jobs.

Q: What are demerits?

A: They have to learn political systems. If they have the intention to do so, however, it will not take too much time to understand them. Trump won the election while making many people his enemy. That shows that his capabilities and insights are excellent.