January 31, 2020
1. Congress resumes legislative activities
The national government, with the support of the opposition in the Chamber of Deputies, managed preliminary approval on a debt restructuring bill that aims to renegotiate Argentina’s loans granted under foreign law. Through the nearly unanimous approval of the bill, the ruling Frente de Todos was able to show a sign of national unity before foreign creditors regarding the expiration of the debt – estimated at USD $64 billion for 2020. Additionally, the new fiscal pact was approved, agreed to by both the government of President Fernández and provincial governors in 2019, will replace the agreement signed by the Macri administration in 2017. The initiative, which already received preliminary approval last December during the first round of extraordinary legislative sessions, allows provinces to increase their share of tax revenue in their respective territories.
2. Alberto Fernández travels to Europe to meet with foreign officials
President Fernández traveled to Europe on Thursday on his second official international trip as head of state. His trip will take him to the Vatican, Rome, Berlin, Madrid and Paris with the objective of securing official and symbolic support for his administration’s debt restructuring plan. Aside from today’s meeting with Pope Francis, he plans to meet with the Italian Prime Minister and President, Giuseppe Conte and Sergio Matarella, respectively. He will then set off for Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, followed by visits to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and King Felipe VI before arriving in Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, February 5th.
3. Economy Minister Martín Guzmán meets with IMF in New York
Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, met with IMF officials to move forward with negotiations regarding the payment of Argentina’s debt within the framework of the current program. Guzmán was joined by IMF director for the Southern Cone, Sergio Chodos; sub-director for the Western Hemisphere, Julie Kozack; and IMF mission chief for Argentina, Luis Cubeddu. Following the meeting, IMF spokesperson Jerry Rice declared that the entity is “awaiting the IMF technical mission’s trip to Buenos Aires in February to continue exchanging opinions regarding macroeconomic plans and the sustainability of debt.”
4. The opposition reorganizes following electoral defeat
Former President Mauricio Macri will resume his football management activities after his election as director of the FIFA Foundation as its next executive president. Macri will carry out his duties ad honorem and his role is slated to begin in February. He will serve in a part-time role that will allow him to continue his political activity in the country. On the other hand, ex-minister Patricia Bullrich will officially be named president of the opposition PRO party between the 5th and 10th of February, replacing Senator Humberto Schiavoni. It is worth noting that Bullrich was proposed for the position by Macri on November 22nd of last year in a party meeting that convened the PRO’s primary leaders.
5. Government launches moratorium plan for SMEs
Minister of Productive Development (formerly Minister of Production and Labor), Matías Kulfas, presented an AFIP-sanctioned (Argentine tax revenue agency) moratorium for micro, small and medium businesses that included the elimination of an average of 42% of their total debt for participating contributors (who will also have asset freezes suspended) and 10 additional years to refinance within the framework of the emergency law passed recently by the government. The decision to move forward with the moratorium was boosted by data from the AFIP that reported the closure of 24,505 businesses between 2015 and 2019.