July 19, 2019
1. Electoral Panorama
23 days away from primary elections (PASO), the Macri administration focused its efforts on the provinces of Córdoba, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires. In Santa Fe President Macri made clear his desire for people to support his coalition during the primaries, “We must conclusively show the world that we will not go backwards on August 11th, during the PASO,” he stated. On the other hand, the Peronist Frente de Todos coalition’s presidential candidate Alberto Fernández, along with legislative candidate Sergio Massa and gubernatorial candidate Axel Kicillof received 30 Peronist mayors from the province of Buenos Aires and called on them to recuperate Peronist influence, asking them to put the economic crisis front and center in their political rhetoric. Finally, the Roberto Lavagna – Juan Manuel Urtubey ticket, today positioning itself as a “third way,” travelled to the province of Córdoba to meet with its governor, Juan Schiaretti, who last week received Alberto Fernández and spent the first days of May with President Mauricio Macri.
2. Mercosur moves forward with new agreements with countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas
President Mauricio Macri led the Mercosur summit in the province of Santa Fe last Wednesday, the first since the signing of a preliminary free trade agreement with the European Union, an agreement Macri believes will improve quality of life across the board. With this in mind, Argentine leadership hoped the summit would spur the development of new agreements with a similar impact. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship Jorge Faurie hoped to eliminate “roaming” charges that drive up international cell phone calls. The summit delineated the bloc’s challenges for the next six months: finish up free trade agreements with EFTA – made up of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein, as well as discuss a framework for closer ties to the Pacific Alliance, a free trade bloc made up of Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru. Also touched on was a “4+4” integration, which would make it easier for countries with Atlantic coastlines to export goods and services from the Pacific and vice versa.
3. Inflation continues to drop
Argentina’s national statistical agency (INDEC) announced that June’s inflation numbers reached 2.7% – the lowest monthly figure this year – compared to the 3.1% figure registered in May. With this June’s figure included, Argentina’s inflation y/y stands at 55.8%. Some sectors were harder hit than others, with prices for communications rising 7.1% due to hikes in fees, recreation & culture rose 3.7%, health as a result of rising prepaid health costs, and home maintenance and equipment saw a 3.4% increase. On the other hand, the May index measuring Argentina’s industrial capacity compared to what it is in use has recovered 5.8 points from January, now standing at 62%. Nonetheless, this figure still shows signs of a drop in industrial activity in year over year figures, showing a 3.1% fall compared to May 2018.
4. Exports surpass USD $6 billion in May
Exports in May surpassed USD $6 billion and a total of USD $25.5 billion during 2019 despite a general drop in prices across a variety of sectors. Argentine exports to the world rose 16.5% in May and 2.5% year/year, according to the export monitor compiled every month by the Argentine Investment and International Trade Agency. In May, exports of silver ore and its derivatives to primarily Germany quadrupled to USD $43 million, barley exports rose 123% to USD $32 million with Iran as a leading destination, while bird meat exports nearly doubled to USD $16 million thanks to consumer demand in China.
5. USD $462 million to be invested in renewable energy
Argentina’s Secretary of Energy entered the third round of bidding in its Programa RenovAr – which hopes to generate more than 300 MW of energy from renewable sources – opening 52 envelopes containing bids for the final project. 31 companies presented offers, of which 23 submitted bids in the renewable energy sector for the first time. This round of the tender hopes to take advantage of distributors’ medium and low tension power lines and the possibility of allowing non-traditional actors to join the growing renewable sector. Since 2016, approximately 6,500 MW worth of renewable energy contracts have been secured. The total amount for these offers has added up to USD $462 million, according to the government.