July 2, 2021
1. Government reduces de number of people entering the country and establishes strict isolation
By means of Administrative Decision 643/2021, the national government maintained the suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Turkey, Brazil, Chile and India, and countries in Africa. Additionally, the regulation established a quota of 600 seats per day on passenger flights to allow Argentine residents re-entry into Argentina. In the Province of Buenos Aires, a 4-day isolation period in a hotel and 3 days at home will be mandatory for those returning to the country as from July 1. The costs incurred by the persons expected as a result of transportation, food and/or stay in the places of compulsory isolation must be covered by the person entering the country. These measures are part of a new regulatory framework of restrictions established by Decree 411/2021, which extended the current system of evaluation of restrictions due to epidemiological situation also until July 9th. The new provisions seek to contain the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant.
2. National government extends ban on dismissals and suspensions
Via Decree 413/2021, the government extended the prohibition on dismissals or suspensions without just cause and for the lack or decrease in work and force majeure through December 31st. At the same time, the regulation exempts personnel in the construction industry from these prohibitions. It is worth mentioning that the measure was instituted in December 2019, shortly after the current administration took office, with the aim of providing stability to the labor market. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and its consequent economic crisis led the government to extend the policy until December. In this sense, Labor Minister Claudio Moroni, acknowledged that, if the economic situation worsens as a consequence of the epidemiological situation, the government will again promote assistance programs, such as the Work and Production Assistance Program (ATP) or the Emergency Family Income (IFE).
3. Economic activity fell 1.2% month-on-month in April and accumulated three months of decline
The Argentine statistical agency (INDEC) reported that in April, economic activity declined 1.2% with respect to March. However, it recorded a recovery of 28.3% with respect to the same month of the previous year, given the improvement of the health and epidemiological situation, and the easing of restrictive measures. Moreover, according to the official report, “the economy is only -4.4% below April 2019 levels [pre-pandemic].” In this regard, it highlights that four sectors are at levels above those in April 2019: Trade (5.1%); Utilities (3.6%); Real estate, business and rental activities (2.4%); and Industry (2.2%). Additioanlly, the INDEC released the Permanent Household Survey (EPH) for the first quarter of 2021, which concluded that half of Argentina’s households live on less than ARS $60,000 (USD $626) per month. It also stated that the average monthly per capita income of the total population, which corresponds to 28,806,672 people, reached ARS $25,284.
4. The control of the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway will be in charge of the State for one year
After several months of discussions regarding the tender process for the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway, the government handed over management to the General Administration of Ports for a period of one year, doing so through Decree 427/2021, published today in the Official Gazette. Although the period established is, in principle, for one year, the measure may be extended until the service is taken over by the successful bidders. This is the 3,500-kilometer waterway through which 80% of Argentine foreign trade passes, which until now was in the hands of the Belgian company Jan de Nul together with its local partner Emepa. Although it had been previously announced by Transport Minister Alexis Guerrera, the decision was made official on Thursday in the Official Gazette. This measure was supported and promoted by part of the ruling party’s supporters of the Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose main advocates were National Deputy Fernanda Vallejos and Senator Jorge Taiana.
5. Food unions end bargaining agreement with an increase of 42%
After the national government backed the banking union’s collective bargaining agreements, several other labor unions decided to reopen salary negotiations. In this case, the Federation of Food Industry Workers (FTIA), led by Rodolfo Daer, confirmed a salary increase of 42% in four installments with management, adding in a review clause in February 2022. On the other hand, other labor unions, such as the Association of State Workers (ATE) and the Federation of Argentine Health Workers’ Associations (FATSA), are also pushing for a renegotiation of their salaries.