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ARGENTINA | 05-09-2019 20:04

US approves US$400 million in financing for Argentina's road network

Washington announces financing package during a visit by Ivanka Trump, the US President’s daughter and adviser, to northern province of Jujuy.

The US government has approved US$400 million in financing for improvements to Argentina's road network.

The announcement was made David Bohigian, Acting President and CEO of The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), during a visit by Ivanka Trump, the US President’s daughter and adviser, to the northern province of Jujuy on Thursday.

Trump is in the country to discuss women's empowerment issues, pushing the White House's Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative. She met with Jujuy Province Governor Gerardo Morales and Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie during her brief stop in Argentina, which lasted less than 24 hours.

OPIC, an agency of the US government tasked with helping US businesses invest in emerging markets, will bankroll around 430 miles of roads in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Cordoba and Mendoza, according to a statement from Argentina’s Transport Ministry.

A separate statement from the US government said OPIC's board of directors had "voted to approve $400 million in financing to rehabilitate and expand the Corredor C Toll Road, an essential trade route for Argentina’s economy."

“Safe highways and road networks that support commerce are critical to creating a healthier economy for the people of Argentina,” said Bohigian. “OPIC financing will support the rehabilitation of this major route, increasing opportunities for trade while reducing accidents and fatalities.”

The US government statement, which highlighted Argentina's problems with infrastructure and road quality, said the money would help to "rehabilitate and expand the existing 876-kilometre Corredor C Toll Road that connects the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Córdoba and Mendoza with each other and with the Chilean border." It also includes funding for "the construction of two new bypasses."

The announcement comes less than eight weeks away from the October 27 election, in which President Mauricio Macri – a personal friend of US President Donald Trump – looks set to lose to Peronist opposition candidate Alberto Fernández.

Though Trump's visit to Argentina is another illustration of the improvement in bilateral relations under Macri, no-one from the US delegation travelled to Buenos Aires during the visit. Sources said the intention was to avoid the appearance of interference in the presidential election. The money, however, will nonetheless  be extremely welcome by the current Government, after Macri resorted to capital controls and other measures to stabilise the economy.

At a bilateral lunch in the mountain town of Purmamarca on Thursday, Trump and US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan met Argentina’s foreign and transport ministers. Macri joined via a conference call in order to thank the US visitors for the financial assistance, aides said.

 – TIMES/BLOOMBERG

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