February 7, 2020
1. Alberto Fernández and Martín Guzmán visit Europe in bid for debt renegotiation support
President Alberto Fernández made his first official trip to Europe as head of state, obtaining vital international support for his proposed debt renegotiation with the IMF. He first visited Rome, where he held a series of meetings with Italian President Sergio Matarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, as well as Pope Francis at the Vatican. His next stop was Germany, where he held a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Soon after he headed for Spain, where he met with President Pedro Sánchez and King Felipe VI. His final trip was to France, where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron and various human rights leaders. By all accounts, Fernández’s trip was a success, receiving key political support from foreign leaders in his bid to restructure Argentina’s external debt and avoid default. Nonetheless, the president must still meet with U.S. officials – a country whose influence over the IMF cannot be understated. Economy Minister Martín Guzmán, on the other hand, traveled to Rome, where he met with IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva and influential economist and Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, with a different foreign debt-related goal: securing support for the restructuring of Argentina’s debt with the Paris Club. Guzmán also participated alongside the multilateral lender at a seminar titled “New Forms of Solidarity,” organized by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in the Vatican.
2. Renegotiation of foreign debt is now law
On the domestic front, the bill that sets out policies for restructuring Argentina’s foreign debt official was passed unanimously by the Senate. The initiative was approved last week by a sweeping majority in the Chamber of Deputies, with only two left-wing representatives rejecting the measure. The bill grants broader powers to the executive branch to “carry out liability management operations and/or swaps and/or restructuring of interest maturities and capital repayments of public securities issued under foreign law,” and requires foreign debt sustainability to put the interests of Argentina first.
3. Province of Buenos Aires to pay USD $250 million debt
Buenos Aires Governor Axel Kicillof announced that his administration will pay the USD $250 million owed to holders of the BP21 bond with the province’s own money. This measure was announced after the administration failed to reach an agreement with at least 75% of its creditors. Additionally, he revealed the beginning of a debt restructuring process using foreign currency. With these actions, Kicillof avoided Argentina’s largest district from falling into default.
4. Minister of Production for the province of Buenos Aires reveals team and announces “arriBA Pymes” project in bid to boost SMEs
Augusto Costa, Minister of Production, Science and Technological Innovation for the province of Buenos Aires, introduced the sub secretaries that will accompany him during his administration, and assured that production and employment are central for the provincial government’s policies. His cabinet includes Mariela Inés Bembi, sub secretary of Industry, SMEs and Cooperatives; Juan Cruz Lucero, sub secretary of Port Affairs; Nicolás Wainszelbaum, sub secretary of Creative Industries and Cultural Innovation; Guillermo Rabinovich, sub secretary of Trade Development and Investment Promotion; and Francisca Ure, sub secretary of Communication. Additionally, the sub secretariat of Science, Technology and Innvoation will be headed by Federico Agüero; Tourism, Ianina Bak; Mining; Federico Aguilera; Sociocultural Promotion, Lorena Riesgo; Cultural Policy, Ezequiel Grimson; and Administrative and Legal, Noelia Laura Fernández. On the other hand, Minister Costa launched “arriBA Pymes,” a program that hopes to stimulate production by small and medium enterprises. During the inauguration, the minister was joined by Governor Axel Kicillof, Chief of Staff Santiago Cafiero and Production Development Minister Matías Kulfas.
Ámbito Financiero: Cuáles son las medidas de financiamiento para pymes que anunció Kicillof
5. Argentine statistical agency reveals performance of domestic industry and foreign trade in 2019
The Argentine statistical agency (Indec) published its year-end report on the performance of various sectors across the country. According to the study, the manufacturing production index (manufacturing IPI) increased 1.2% in December 2019 in comparison to the same month in 2018. Nonetheless, the final 12-month count for 2019 was not as promising, registering a 6.4% decrease compared to 2018. Regarding foreign trade, Q4 exports increased 9.7% year-over-year. The sectors that performed best were overwhelmingly represented by the agricultural sector, like seeds and oleaginous fruits (+62.3%), vegetables and unprocessed legumes (+41.9%) and Meat and its derivatives (34.2%).