July 3, 2020
1. Economic activity in April falls 26.4%
The Argentine statistical agency (INDEC) reported a 26.45% year-over-year fall in economic activity. Additionally, the same figure fell 17.5% with respect to March 2020, and has dropped 11% so far this year. The drop is due to sizeable decreases in activity in the manufacturing (-34.4%), trade (-27%) and construction (-87%) sectors. It is worth noting that April was the first full month that experienced the implementation of mandatory preventative social isolation measures, which explains the sharp drop over March. According to the INDEC, the year-over-year decrease has exceeded figures from the economic crisis of 2001 and 2002.
2. President Alberto Fernández calls for unity in Mercosur to confront inequality in post-pandemic scenario
President Alberto Fernández participated in the 56th Summit of Heads of State of Mercosur, which was held in Paraguay via video conference. “I call upon you to take on the challenge of debating and working towards how we can build a more equal world and how we can – starting now – put an end to the social inequities that harm Latin America every day,” stated the Argentine president during his speech. Among the objectives for Mercosur, Fernández identified the necessity to ensure that members take action on how to eliminate inequalities and asymmetries in the trade bloc to “favor Uruguay and Paraguay, who require thriving development like Brazil and Argentina have experienced.” Moreover, he spoke to the necessity of global integration as an entire region, stating that doing so individually will force countries to be dependent on luck.” Finally, Fernández sent a message to the region’s leaders, stating that “thinking of Mercosur (as a whole) means understanding that we are obligated to seek a common goal, beyond what we think, because our people demand it.”
3. The Federal Council of Education approved the new back-to-school protocol
The Federal Council of Education unanimously approved the protocol for the return to face-to-face classes in obligatory and tertiary education, presented by the Minister of Education Nicolás Trotta. The document establishes a minimum standard of requirements for the opening of educational institutions, from which each jurisdiction may add additional criteria and adapt them to its local reality. The 10 points agreed upon include the suspension of school events, the prohibition of students borrowing school supplies and a gradual return to the activity. Although there is no specific date, the AMBA area would be the last one to return to school in a face to face way, due to the number of daily cases registered.
4. Government officially extends price control policies
Through Resolution 200/2020, the government officially extended the price ceiling on more than 2,300 goods that represent a large part of the basic necessities of Argentine families. Additionally, the resolution states that “in cases in which the variations in cost structures substantially affect the economic and financial situation of subjects covered by the aforementioned law, after March 6th, the government can establish new price ceilings of the products included in the measure, which will be subject to the conditions established by the undersecretary.” Finally, the government is working on creating formal processes for companies to apply for permits from the Ministry of Domestic Trade to increase prices in the face of rising costs.
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5. The Chamber of Deputies extends remote mixed sessions during July
The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Sergio Massa, and the leaders of the parliamentary blocs of the ruling party and the opposition reached an agreement to extend the remote sessions during the month of July, with the treatment of topics that have broad agreement. Despite the five positive cases of Covid19 among the legislators, the sessions will continue to be mixed: there will be deputies present in the premises, while most of them will be connected to the virtual platform. In addition, it was established that during this month of strict isolation, there will be two sessions and a visit by the Chief of Staff, Santiago Cafiero, is planned, who presented to the Senate last May. In addition, it was established that during this month of strict quarantine there will be two sessions and the possibility of a visit of the Chief of Staff, Santiago Cafiero, is considered. Following a request from the opposition, the agenda that was enabled leaves out issues such as the expropriation of Vicentin and the tax on large fortunes.