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ECONOMY | 07-06-2024 16:44

Milei adviser expects major tech investments within eight weeks

Javier Milei's senior adviser Demian Reidel is confident Argentina will be able to announce significant investments from Silicon Valley in the coming weeks.

A senior adviser to Argentine President Javier Milei expects the administration to announce significant investments from technology companies within the next eight weeks after visiting Silicon Valley in May.

Demian Reidel, who organised meetings for Milei with Apple Inc, Meta Platforms Inc and Alphabet Inc, among other firms, sees at least one tech investment over US$1 billion being announced before Argentina lifts capital controls put in place five years ago that have deterred foreign investment. He declined to provide specifics about the company or project.

“We are going to be speaking of concrete investment plans,” Reidel, who serves as chairman to Milei’s newly created council of economic advisers, said in an interview. “The first announcements are going to happen in a matter of weeks and not a hundred weeks. Four, eight weeks.”

Milei has entrusted Reidel with managing long-term policy issues like Argentina’s bid to become a hub for artificial intelligence, while Economy Minister Luis Caputo and incoming minister Federico Sturzenegger focus on economic policy and deregulation, respectively. Reidel began planning the Silicon Valley trip in January, he said. 

In California, Milei and Reidel pitched Argentina’s vast lands in Patagonia with good energy access and cold climates that are key ingredients for large data centres. They also touted the well educated population in Argentina, a country home to Latin America’s tech giants, such as MercadoLibre Inc and Globant SA. 

Despite a long history of protectionism that still dominates commerce today, Milei’s administration aims to reshape the economy as one of the most business-friendly and technology-optimistic destinations to attract Artificial Intelligence. “We have to be the magnet that attracts the human capital,” Reidel said.

Milei’s bid to attract large foreign investment comes as he’s proving unconventional and unpredictable on the world stage. On Thursday, he canceled a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, citing negotiations over his reform package in Congress. He also zigzagged on whether he’d accept an invite to the Group of Seven summit in Italy. Yet, he’s still going to Europe this month to accept awards. 

After his California trip, the libertarian president confirmed ongoing talks with Meta to tap its AI resources for educational programs, while he intends to advance with Alphabet to use its Cloud technology to make state bureaucracy more efficient. 

Reidel reiterated Milei’s pledge to eventually lift capital controls, acknowledging that they’re a barrier for large companies to do business in Argentina. “We must create an environment where Apple has the freedom to sell iPhones” in the country, the adviser said. “It creates jobs and economic growth for the population.”

by Ignacio Olivera Doll & Manuela Tobias, Bloomberg

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