Macri, Peña Nieto vow to reach free trade deal

After signing 17 bilateral agreements, President Mauricio Macri and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto, agreed on the need of reaching “an agreement of absolute integration and free trade” between Argentina and Mexico.

“We are building a new era in the bilateral relations with Mexico,” Macri said after holding a one-hour meeting with Peña Nieto at the Pink House.

During a Joint press briefing both leaders underlined the importance of “strengthening the ties” between the countries.

“Being Argentina and Mexico two of the largest Latin American economies, we share the path to develop the growth opportunity,” the Mexican head of state said.

“Today we decided to deepen these agreements so we can aim at reaching a better integration and free trade between both countries,” he added.

Macri received Peña Nieto this morning at the Government House, and then held a bilateral meeting also attended by members of their presidential cabinets. Foreign Affairs Minister Susana Malcorra, Finance Minister Alfonso Prat Gay and the secretary of Strategic Affairs Fulvio Pompeo where present at the meeting.

The Mexican delegation was formed by secretaries of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, and of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu; the Mexican Ambassador to Buenos Aires Fernando Castro Trenti; Aides Coordinator Carlos Pérez Verdía Canales; and the undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean Socorro Flores Liera.

Verizon to buy Yahoo’s operating business for $4.83 bln

Verizon Communications Inc said on Monday it would buy Yahoo Inc’s core internet properties for $4.83 billion in cash to expand its digital advertising and media business, ending a protracted sale process for the fading Web pioneer.

The purchase will boost Verizon’s AOL internet business, which it bought last year for $4.4 billion, as it gains access to Yahoo’s ad technology tools, BrightRoll and Flurry, and search, email and messenger assets.

Verizon, the No. 1 US wireless operator, has in recent years looked to mobile video and advertising for new sources of revenue in an oversaturated wireless market. It has also scaled back on its Fios TV and internet service.

Verizon could combine data from AOL and Yahoo users in addition to its more than 100 million wireless customers to help advertisers target users based on online behavior and preferences.

“Yahoo gives us scale that is what is most critical here, Marni Walden, who is head of product innovation and new business at Verizon told CNBC, adding that the company’s audience will go from the millions to the billions. “We want to compete and that is the place we need to be.”

Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer said on a conference call with investors that she planned to stay at Yahoo through the deal’s close. Walden, who will head the combined company, told CNBC the new leadership team has yet to be determined.

“It’s a decade of mismanagement that has finally ended for Yahoo,” said Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner. “It’s the continuation of an extension of Verizon’s strategy toward becoming a wireless internet player and a move away from (telecom) regulation for Verizon into an unregulated growth industry.”

Shares of Verizon dipped 0.4 percent to $55.88, Yahoo fell 2.6 percent to $38.37.

US dollar almost steady

The US dollar ended one cent lower at 15.18 pesos in banks and foreign exchange agencies, and climbed four cents in the wholesale market to close at 14.98 pesos after two consecutive falls.

The “blue” exchange rate in the informal market jumped 14 cents to 15.57 pesos in underground houses.

According to figures released today by the Oil Industry Chamber and the Grain Exporters Centre, grain exports fell 27.2 percent last week in the yearly comparison.

On Friday, Central Bank reserves lost 64 million dollars to 33.7 billions.

US dollar jumps 23 cents to 15.36 pesos

The US dollar opened the week jumping 23 cents to end at 15.36 pesos in banks and foreign exchange agencies after two consecutive sessions of rises amid a solid demand for greenbacks.

The informal exchange rate or “blue” dollar added 13 cents to 15.39 pesos in underground houses after climbing 14 cents last week.

On Friday, the US currency broke the 15-peso mark ending 17 cents higher.

22 years on, AMIA urges probe to be ‘state priority’

Vice president first of AMIA Jewish community centre Ralph Thomas Saieg today urged the government to make the investigation into the 1994 terrorist attack a “state priority” and called for the judiciary to “exhaust all the steps” to take the responsible for the local connection to trial.

“We ask the head of AMIA Special Unit Mario Cimadevilla, and Justice Minister Germán Garavano, that the case becomes a state priority. We know you have been in your posts for a short time, but we have been calling for justice for 22 years and bearing the sad reality of not having even one person arrested”, the community leader said during a speech pronounced during a new anniversary of the bombing.

Saieg stated “there is a local connection which must be investigated” and called for “judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral and prosecutors Sabrina Namer, Roberto Salum and Leonardo Filippini, who have replaced Alberto Nisman in the AMIA case, to investigate and exhaust all the proceedings to take those who helped terrorists in Argentine land, to trial.” “We want specific progress in the investigation,” he affirmed.

He considered the gestures of Mauricio Macri’s government towards the investigation “positive” and celebrated the nullification of Argentina’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iran. “It was a useless instrument,” he stated.

President Mauricio Macri attended today’s event for the first time and left after Saieg’s speech.

US dollar adds 2 cents to 14.98 pesos

After four consecutive days of losses when the US dollar fell 38 cents, the currency ended two cents higher at 14.98 pesos in Buenos Aires city banks and agencies.

The informal exchange rate or so called “blue” dollar which trades in underground houses was steady in mid session at 14.90 pesos.

Liquidation from grain exporting firms decreased 40 percent to 449.6 billion dollars compared to the five previous days, the Argentine Oil Industry Chamber and the Centre of Grain Exporters, reported today.

Government announces 400% cap on hikes to natural gas

Amid growing concern on the latest hikes on electricity and gas bills, which have prompted massive complaints, the government toay announced a 400 percent cap on recent hikes to natural gas bills.

The annoncement was made during a press briefing this afteroon offered by Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña, Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren and Justice Minister Germán Garavano.

Earlier, President Mauricio Macri headed a cabinet meeting in an attempt to find a way out of social discontent.

The government is expected to challenge the recent La Plata Federal Court decision to freeze hikes across the country through an injunction.

Let’s Change wants La Plata’s case to reach the Supreme Court soon, where another government writ on the issue is also pending resolution: the “per saltum” request filed by Solicitor General Carlos Balbín asking the Supreme Court to quickly act on an injunction against the hikes approved by a Chubut province court, which could set precedent for what happens with other similar cases across the country.

 

Macri arrives in Berlín as part of European tour

President Mauricio Macri arrived in Berlín today, in his first official trip to this country and as part of an European tour aimed at strengthening Argentina’s ties with the European Union.

The head of state will be received tomorrow by the German president Joachim Gauck, and is set to share a work lunch with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The second day in Germany will be marked by business meetings as he is scheduled to meet with top executives of Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Siemens and will speak before German businessmen at a lunch organized by the German Association of Trade and Industry Chambers.

Earlier in Brussels, President Mauricio Macri assured his visit has helped “to narrow the relations between Argentina and the Mercosur with the European Union” and “it’s the beginning of a road that will bring opportunities for Argentines.”

“I feel it’s has been very good that we could come,” the head of state said during a press briefing offered at the Argentine embassy in Brussels.

He underlined the “good atmosphere and the expression of enthusiasm with the transformations that are being carried out in out country.” “We must continue to deepen and work” in the same line, he added.

“To end poverty, we need education and employment and we are here to look for investments,” he highlighted.

The Argentine leader met with EU authorities at Berlaymont building, among them, European Union’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini. Later, he attended a lunch offered by European Council President Donald Tusk.

The president and First Lady Juliana Awada were also received at the Palacio Real by the King of Belgium Felipe, and Queen Matilde.

‘I did not say all problems will be resolved in the second semester’

Argentineans should expect to do better in the second half of the year, Mauricio Macri said but admitted the country will not have “all its problems resolved” by that time. The president arrived in France today where he met meeting with Francois Hollande as part of his European tour that will also take him to Belgium and Germany.

“I said the second semester was going to go better than the first one, I did not say Argentina was going to have all its problems resolved in the second semester. This is a long way, things cannot happen overnight but by making small steps every day. And we are making small steps every day,” Macri told the DPA news agency before the beginning of his European tour.

“All export sectors are working better, although other are clearly not,” the head of state said. “Reactivation is not going to be equal. There are sectors that have been reactivated, the farming sector that is the greatest engine of the country is going through an investment revolution, we have the most important infrastructure plan in the history (of the country), we are increasing the levels of investment month by month,” he considered adding his administration took “very difficult” measures during the first semester of the year.

“There was a first semester when we had to make very difficult measures, keeping in mind that all the people must be part of that transformation. That’s why we took very important social measures,” Macri said.

“Clearly, in the second semester we will improve, I made a commitment to drastically drop in inflation in the second semester and that is already happening.”

US dollar jumps 31 cents to 15.43 pesos

The US dollar jumped on Monday in banks and foreign exchange agencies for the sixth business session in a row, hitting its three-month high and after the currency had climbed 48 cents last Friday.

Today, the dollar rose 31 cents and was trading at 15.43 pesos in the retail market while in the wholesale segment, it surpassed the 15-peso barrier for the first time since March and closed at 15,32 pesos, 37 cents higher.

The so called “blue” dollar which trades in the informal market added 25 cents at 15.32 pesos in underground houses.

Local media reported today the agricultural sector liquidated more than 319.914 billion dollars last week from exports, which represents the lowest amount in the last three months.

Apart from domestic factors such as offer, demand and interest rates, analysts predict that the Brexit outcome last week could affect the exchange rate. Puente investment bank warned the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union bloc could bring an additional pressure on the dollar, and a bigger volatility.”

Former Central Bank governor Mario Blejer said “if this tends to cause a more serious conflict, the international environment could become rarified, which is not positive for Argentina, which seeks to integrate to the international financial system.”

Gov’t closely watching post-Brexit scenario

The Argentine government is closely following the political and economic scenario in the United Kingdom where the decision by the British people to leave the European Union has sent shockwaves around the world.

A government source quoted by ámbito.com said “we are very concerned” about the Brexit situation.

“It is terrible for the globalized world and a bad sign for Argentina. At a time when we are opening ourselves, they shut themselves down. Furthermore, all agreements with the EU will go backwards,” the source was quoted as saying.

President Mauricio Macri himself will seek to contact his US counterpart Barack Obama in the upcoming hours to discuss the results of the referendum and analyze “joined actions.”

“The world grows with integrations and this is disintegration,” the source said.

“The only thing that can save us is that the countries involved (in the Brexit) show a greater reaction of fear and the United Kingdom does not dare to concretize the breakup,” the source said adding that Argentina’s position will focus on “consolidating the Mercosur and move towards the Pacific Alliance, since separatisms have never been good.”

Argentina''s President Mauricio Macri gestures during a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (out of frame) at Narino presidential Palace in Bogota.

Macri says ‘did not even realize’ he had $18m in Bahamas

President Mauricio Macri discussed with the media the Bahamas case that revealed he had 18 pesos million in the tax haven. “Truth is I did not even realize, honestly,” the head of state said.

“First, I had the money in a traditional bank of the US and Switzerland, the Merrill Lynch. The Merrill Lynch is purchased by a Swiss bank that has its address in the Bahamas, so it is not that the money was in Bahamas, it was in a European country. Truth is that I did not even realize, honestly,” the president said in an interview with the “El Tribuno” newspaper of the province of Salta that was published today.

“I am the politician that more transparency has showed regarding its personal situation, I have always declared everythin,g” he affirmed.

Macri analyzed the country’s economic situation as well.

“The first stage, so that there is investment that leads us to employment, is to get out from inflation, and that we will make it in the second semester as I promised.”

“In 2017, we will grow again. After five years, growing again is vital,” he said.

“There are sectors that are already growing and others that are in recession, they are not level with each other. We are seeking to protect the jobs we have and protect the level of activity, but at the same time, by the hand of investment, to create a different dynamic,” Macri insisted.

“There have been attempts by a minority to create turmoil and problems, but there is a lot of hope in Argentina,” he said. “I have to be infinitely thankful to all Argentineans for accompanying me, for supporting me, for understanding that if I am making these sometimes difficult decisions to tell the truth about the economy it is because I clearly think this is the way.”

López refuses to testify before Judge Rafecas

José López refused to testify before Judge Daniel Rafecas in the illicit enrichment investigation that has the former secretary of Public Works in the spotlight since he was caught by the police when he was trying to hide almost US$9 million in a Buenos Aires province monastery earlier this week.

López arrived in the Comodoro Py courthouse this morning where he reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown, screaming and threatening to hurt himself, refusing to enter the judge’s office. He held a meeting with his lawyer, Fernanda Herrera, before appearing before the magistrate.

According to judicial sources, the ex-official did not know when his birthday was.

Lawyer Herrera, in statements to the press, said her client decided to testify “at a later time.” “He is very reserved and calculates his words,” the legal representative stated adding López was under heavy “stress,” experiencing “great levels of anxiety, isolated and suffering” because he did not have his family with him.

Herrera confirmed that the former secretary will be taken to the Ezeiza prison later today.