Argentine president Mauricio Macri is in New York where he is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, but will also be holding a round of talks with business leaders and potential investors, plus granting interviews to key media outlets.
Foreign minister Jorge Faurie described the coming days as “a particularly important trip,” saying that president Macri would be able to “present the reality of the economic and financial situation,” address queries over “negotiations with the IMF and rekindle the interest of the investors.” He will emphasize that Argentina's economy is on track to stabilization, despite the recent devaluation of the Peso and economy's contraction.
Macri arrived in New York after two hectic months, including a formal request to the IMF for a standby support, but last week the run on the Argentine currency had started to cool and the value of the US dollar slumped from several records in the foreign exchange market.
The Argentine president formal activities begin this Monday with interviews with influential economic publications Bloomberg and The Financial Times. After lunching with potential investors, Macri will meet with US Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) representatives and the Council of the Americas.
The headline-making event scheduled for his first full day in New York will be an encounter with US President Donald Trump, who will host a reception for world leaders attending the General Assembly, as is customary. Later, Macri will receive the 2018 World Citizen Award, awarded by the Atlantic Council.
Potential bilateral meetings could also take place with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel, local outlets reported on Sunday.
The president will be accompanied in New York by First Lady Juliana Awada, Foreign Minister Faurie and Secretary of Strategic Affairs Fulvio Pompeo, among others. Finance Minister Nicolás Dujovne will also be in New York, but on a separate agenda.
A key topic on both the president and the finance minister’s schedule will be the ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as Argentina seeks to win advanced disbursements of its US$50-billion loan agreement. IMF officials this week said “important progress” had been made by Argentine officials, citing the government’s budget proposal that was sent to Congress on Monday. While in New York, Macri is expected to meet with IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
Details of the talks with the IMF have been scarce but reports indicate that the Argentine government will apply a new measure in the exchange market that would let the dollar “float” between 32 and 44 pesos, in order to avoid pronounced jumps in the exchange rate of the currency, as has happened in recent months.
However despite the tepid optimism of the Macri team, in Argentina social groups and unions will be involved in an agenda of protests and marches. On Tuesday, unions – led by the CGT umbrella union grouping – will attempt to shutdown the country as they go on strike, underlining the problems of labor unrest and opposition to the government’s policies.
Likewise the Indec stats office revealed that unemployment rose in the second quarter to 9.6%, while economic activity in the same period contracted by 4.2% year-on-year.
On Tuesday Macri’s agenda will be dominated by the UN General Assembly, and his speech expected to be dominated by the economic turbulence facing Argentina and the crisis in Venezuela, although sources say he will also address topics such as renewable energy and the fight against corruption.
Before leaving for New York president Macri said he was under no illusions as the difficulties facing Argentines, especially with purchasing power declining as inflation climbs to 40% this calendar year.
“It is a difficult time” for Argentina, he said, admitting that “inflation with devaluation has hit us [hard].” Questioned as to the economic hardships facing citizens, the president said: “I know it is a hard road but it was the only possible way.”