Monday, December 9, 2019
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ECONOMY | 03-12-2019 08:30

Influential agricultural leader: Macri 'wasn't what we expected'

Carlos Iannizzotto, president of one of Argentina's largest agricultural cooperatives, Coninagro, reflects on how the industry fared under outgoing president Mauricio Macri – and ponders what lies ahead under Alberto Fernández.

Among all of Argentina's economic sectors, the agriculture industry was perhaps the one which embraced the arrival of Mauricio Macri to the Casa Rosada the most. 

However, that enthusiasm was diminished as the country became gripped by an economic and social crisis that began in 2018 with a run on the peso. 

As the president prepares to depart office, a sense of disappointment is felt among some agricultural producers, says Carlos Iannizzotto, an influential industry voice  and the president of one of Argentina's largest agricultural cooperatives, Coninagro.

"It wasn't what we expected," Iannizzotto said this week, in an interview with the Radio Con Vos station.

Speaking to journalist Ramón Indart on the De Lejos No Lo Ves programme, the agricultural leader was asked whether producers felt let down by the president.

"There was a strong advance in the export sector and in 'institutionalisation.' But the big problem was wrapped up in the speculative financial market that threw overboard many of the objectives we had," he responded.

Asked if there was any leeway should the next government increase export duties, Iannizzotto said he did not believe "it's the same context as in 2008," a reference to tensions between the sector and the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration at that time.

"Alberto Fernández, when we spoke with him before [the] PASO [primaries], committed to not re-living this conflict, [he] committed to dialogue and putting on the table positions for us to reach a consensus," he said. 

Addressing rumours of a potential incremental levy on exports, Iannizzotto debunked the validity of this idea. 

"There is no place for such percentages, no place for more taxes on our regional and provincial economies. It is an economy that produces growth and brings in dollars," he said.

"The proposal should be the reverse. How will we export more, how will we reactivate our internal market, how will we move from a speculative financial market to a productive financial market." 

Iannizzotto acknowledged Argentina was facing "serious social problems," referring specifically to hunger and unemployment. 

"For every 10 pesos that enter Argentina, six are produced by agriculture. So to stop the source of income is an error. But we are conscious that there are urgent social problems in Argentina and that we need to address those." 

Regarding whether the question of withholdings should be looked at by Congress, Iannizzotto suggested that "in some form" such a move could be useful. 

"We need policies from the State that in 10 or 15 years will give us stability, growth and predictability. This is achieved with synergy between the public and private spaces and the scope of Congress is very useful in finding these agreements." 

"The only game we can play right now is the game of Argentina," he said. 

– TIMES/PERFIL

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