Argentina

Inflation in Argentina reached 1.9 percent in November

According to the measurements by private consultancies, inflation averaged 1.9 percent for November 2016. Experts estimate that by the end of 2016, inflation could total between 39.6 and 41 percent, a figure significantly greater than in 2015 and 2014 (Entorno Inteligente, 9 December 2016). Experts reported inflation has had a significant impact in the food and beverage industry and in the transportation and communication industry (Clarín, 10 December 2016).  

IADB to provide financing for the Chile - Argentina tunnel

The IADB announced on 12 December 2016 that it will provide funding in the form of two loans worth a combined US$40 million for the construction of the Agua Negra Bridge that will link San Juan province in Argentina with Coquimbo in Chile. The announcement will enable the Argentine and Chilean governments to launch the tendering process for the tunnel's construction. Total estimated construction costs are projected at US$1.5 billion, with an estimated construction time of 8.5 years. (BioBio). Chilean government officials argued the tunnel constitutes a vital step forward in Chilean-Argentine economic integration, and will also contribute to deepening integration between Mercosur countries. The tunnel could eventually become part of a transport link that will connect the Atlantic with the Pacific, from Porto Alegre in Brazil to Coquimbo in Chile. Chilean Minister of Public Works, Alberto Undurraga, expects to conduct a tendering procedure to select a contractor in the first half of 2017 for construction work to begin in early 2018 (Diario Financiero).

Argentina assumes Mercosur presidency despite objections from Venezuela

During a Summit in Buenos Aires on 14 December 2016, Argentina assumed the rotating presidency of Mercosur despite objections from Venezuela, which was suspended from the bloc on 2 December but refuses to recognize Mercosur's decision. Although Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga stated on 13 December that Venezuela was not invited to the Mercosur summit, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez arrived at Argentina's Foreign Ministry, accompanied by Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca (Tal Cual). Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra stated during a press conference that she met with Rodríguez, Choquehuanca, and Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa before the Mercosur Summit (Panorama). Malcorra reiterated that Venezuela has not adopted over 200 regulations required to become a full member of Mercosur, but noted she and Rodríguez will meet again on 15 December to hold a dialogue over Venezuela's relationship with the bloc (Globovisión). 

Argentina: Venezuela does not show signs of resuming dialogue with Mercosur

Argentina's Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña stated on 7 December 2016 that Venezuela has not shown signs of being able to resume a dialogue with Mercosur to revoke its 2 December suspension from the trade bloc (Globovisión). Peña stressed the importance of the dialogue between the Maduro administration and the opposition, and said once the country resolves its internal problems, Mercosur can resume talks with Venezuela (La Patilla). During a press conference on 7 December, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez asserted Venezuela is still a member of Mercosur and added Venezuela is acting as the bloc's rotating president. Rodríguez denounced attacks against Venezuela from what she has dubbed the Triple Alliance, or the governments of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina (Panorama).

Argentina's income tax debate intensifies

In light of the upcoming 2017 legislative elections 2017, Sergio Massa's (Frente Renovador) proposed income tax bill is becoming embattled (Clarín, 1 December 2016). Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay, who had previously encouraged the measure has stated bill might not viable, while toughening the limits of the negotiations (TN, 1 December 2016). Besides the Government opposition to this measure, ALEARA union workers have expressed concern over the negative impact this initiative might have (Clarín, 1 December 2016). 

Unemployment in Argentina decreases in the third quarter

The INDEC reported on 26 November 2016 that third quarter unemployment stood at 8.5 percent, affecting 1 million Argentines. This was a decrease from the previous quarter, which closed with an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent (La Nacion). According to this report, the areas most affected by unemployment were Buenos Aires (7.25 percent), Salta (20 percent), Gran Córdoba (16.4 percent), Mar de Plata (19.5 percent) and Gran Rosario (13.8 percent) (Minúto Uno, 25 November 2016). 

Macri working to redefine Argentina's position in the global economy

On 26 November, President Mauricio Macri held a meeting to discuss Argentina's insertion into the global economy. In particular, the President sought to redefine Argentina's strategy for attracting foreign investments, in light of underwhelming results on this front during the past year. Another key issue discussed was the new global economic panorama arising from the 2016 US presidential election results and its potential impact on Argentina (Clarín). President Macri had signed strategic agreements with the Obama administration, but is optimistic about US-Argentina relations under future President Trump, following a phone call where the two leaders promised to deepen bilateral relations (Exprés Diario).

Prosecutors requested the freezing of assets from Máximo and Florencia Kirchner

Prosecutors Gerardo Pollicita and Ignacio Mahiques on 29 November 2016 requested the freezing of assets held by Máximo and Florencia Kirchner, the children of former presidents Néstor and Cristina Kirchner. The assets under examination were transferred by Néstor Kirchner to Cristina Kirchner, who later transferred the assets to her two children on 10 March 2016 (Clarín). The freezing of the assets is part of an ongoing investigation into a money laundering case involving Cristina Kirchner (Terra).

Paraguay denies crisis in Mercosur over Venezuela

Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga stated on 17 October 2016 there is no crisis in Mercosur over Venezuela. Loizaga reiterated Venezuela is not acting as Mercosur's rotating president, despite statements to the contrary from the Venezuelan government (Globovisión). The Foreign Minister stated in September 2016, the four founding members of Mercosur determined Venezuela could not act as president because the country had not adopted all of Mercosur's rules and noted Venezuela has until 1 December to comply with Mercosur regulations or face possible suspension (La Patilla). Loizaga stated founding members Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil are pushing ahead with negotiations over a trade deal with the European Union (EU) without Venezuela, which is an associate member of Mercosur and was not involved in the initial stages of the trade talks (La Patilla).

Argentina's Central Bank reserves reached its highest point since 2013

On 17 October 2016, Argentina's Central Bank announced the international reserves reached its highest level since May 2013 on 16 October. The Central Bank possesses US$39.3 billion, which is US$3.792 billion more than the previous day (Clarin). The reserve increase is the result of an inflow of US$3.9 million in debt issuance internationally. The reserves peaked, despite the Bank making service payments to international organizations in the amount of US$160 million and for operations made through the SML system for US$1 million (La Nacion).