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ECONOMY | 29-12-2019 22:57

Fernández seals first 'social agreement' with business leaders, unions

First meeting of Economic and Social Council ends with signing of four-page document – the "Compromiso Argentino para el Desarrollo y la Solidaridad."

President Alberto Fernández has agreed a deal with businessmen, unions and social leaders that will create a strategy to boost investment, industry and employment in Argentina.

The move, agreed under the framework of the first meeting of the president's "Economic and Social Council," is part of a joint effort to resolve the deep economic crisis facing the country, officials told reporters.

"The idea of ​​this agreement is to begin to have a frank dialogue to tackle the problems that we have (...) a country that has had two consecutive years of declining consumption and more than 20 months of falling industrial activity," said Fernandez .

The document signed by those present, titled the "Compromiso Argentino para el Desarrollo y la Solidaridad," is just four pages long, but lays out the foundations for negotiations and further talks. It is a boon to the government, ahead of crucial debt talks with private bondholders and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Argentina has been in recession since the second quarter of 2018. Inflation through to October reached 48.3 percent, with the currency depreciating by 38 percent over the same period.

GDP fell by 2.5 percent in 2018 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the economy to contract by 3.1 percent this year.

Fernández, addressing the media, said that in order to reverse the decline Argentina needed "industrialists to invest" so that "industry grows" and Argentina can export.

"In this way we generate work, so that the economy moves again," he added.

The agreement, sealed with stakeholders, aims to encourage productive investment and value-added exports, as well as facilitating access to bank credit for housing and production purposes.

Last week, Fernández introduced a package of emergency economic and tax measures that began to kick in this week. They include a 30 percent tax on the purchase of dollars, a 30 percent tax on purchases abroad with credit cards and travel abroad, as well as tax hikes for the upper and middle sectors.

Taxes on agricultural exports are also expected, reaching a maximum of 33 percent for soybeans, Argentina's main export. 

Fernández said he hopes that the agreement with businessmen and unions will be operational in time to contribute to debate over the 2020 Budget.



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