Day one of the first high-level meeting of G20 representatives in Buenos Aires ended without fanfare today, as officials refused to take questions at an abruptly curtailed press conference.
Toward the end of a “hurried” day of negotiations, Finance Minister Nicolás Dujovne and José Ángel Gurría, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), held a press conference for media covering the meeting. It was the day’s only official scheduled opportunity for media access, as talks themselves are closed-door, and one of only a handful over the course of the two-day affair.
However, the press conference lasted just 11 minutes and neither official took questions from the floor.
Regulation of cryptocurrencies, trade tariffs between member states and the spectre of a global trade war that directly defies the G20’s advocacy for global free trade all went unmentioned, including progress on winning an exception for Argentina from impending US steel and aluminium tariffs.
Reading from a brief statement before journalists, Dujovne praised the Macri administration’s economic record, citing seven straight semesters of growth, a decrease in poverty and inflation, a shrinking deficit and a nearly-complete free trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union.
“We want to take advantage of this opportunity to show the world what we’re made of,” Dujovne said.
The finance minister reiterated Argentina’s pride at hosting the G20 in 2018 and expressed enthusiasm for the broad goals the international forum seeks to accomplish. The statement failed to provide fresh insight onto the progress of this week’s event, however.
Gurría then took over, formally presenting the OECD's 2018 Going for Growth annual assessment to Dujovne and providing his own brief statement. He praised the G20 member states for their commitment to economic growth and progress, specifically the forum’s consistency in setting, tracking and accomplishing its targets. “We’re making very important, worthwhile changes,” he said.
The OECD, a Paris-based international organisation, has 35 total members, and groups together most of the world’s developed economies. Argentina is not currently a member, though it does work with the OECD on a number of issues.
The Going for Growth report tracks the progress of member states in the policy areas it recommends for economic growth. Argentina continues to struggle in comparison to OECD member states, the report says, in wealth, productivity and investment rates. The organisation recommends Argentina improve infrastructure and education outcomes, further reduce regulation and reduce inequality and poverty.
But in the OECD’s analysis of how well current administrations around the world are implementing its desired policies, Argentina fares well, and the report even compliments its recent regulation reduction efforts and tax reform on several occasions, a symbol of the international establishment’s approval of Macri’s economic approach.