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Cablegate: Argentina Economic and Financial Review, May 14 -

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DE RUEHBU #1043/01 1441921
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241921Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
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RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6050
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RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001043

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

TREASURY FOR NANCY LEE, AJEWEL, WBLOCK, LTRAN
NSC FOR JOSE CARDENAS, ROD HUNTER
PASS FED BOARD OF GOVERNORS FOR RANDALL KROSZNER, PATRICE
ROBITAILLE
PASS EXIM BANK FOR MICHELE WILKINS
PASS OPIC FOR JOHN SIMON, GEORGE SCHULTZ, RUTH ANN NICASTRI
USTR FOR SUSAN CRONIN
USDOC FOR 4322/ITA/MAC/OLAC/PEACHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN EINV ETRD AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL REVIEW, MAY 14 -
18, 2007


1. Provided below is Embassy Buenos Aires' Economic and
Financial Review covering the period May 14 - 18, 2007. The
unclassified email version of this report includes tables and

SIPDIS
charts tracking Argentine economic developments. Contact
Econoff Chris Landberg at landbergca@state.gov to be included
on the email distribution list.

-----------------
Weekly Highlights
-----------------

-- GoA Bond issued at higher yield than corporates
-- Economy Minister Announces Launch of National Production
Plan
-- Rumor of domestic group purchasing 25% of YPF
-- GoA reaches agreement with beef producers
-- FDI into Argentina down 4% y-o-y in 2006
-- Argentina's Export Performance Comparison with other
Emerging Economies

-------------------
Banking and Finance
-------------------

GoA Bond Issued at Higher Yield
than Corporates
-------------------------------
2. On May 10, the GoA issued $750 million of a
ten-year-maturity bond, the Bonar X (also known as the Bonar
2017) at a yield of 8.44% -- only two basis points lower than
the first GoA auction of $750 million in Bonar X on April 12.
(Note: The Bonar X is a ten-year, dollar-denominated,
bullet with a 7% coupon issued under Argentine law).
Interestingly, the Bonar X's yield was higher than that of
two recent corporate issues: Alto Palermo (a real estate
company that develops and administers the main Argentine
shopping malls) and TGS (a gas pipeline company). Alto
Palermo and TGS each recently tapped the market at yields of
7.875% for similar dollar denominated instruments. (Note:
the TGS bond has a ten-year maturity, similar to the Bonar X
and the Alto Palermo bond, but has a shorter average life
since it has an amortizing principal structure.)

3. Many private analysts believe that the higher GoA yields
are at least partially explained by market concerns over GoA
manipulation of the statistical agency's (INDEC) CPI figures
and by the GoA's inability to issue debt in international
markets under foreign law. (Note: the TGS and Alto Palermo
bonds were issued under New York law). However, some local
analysts also point to slowing growth, brewing corruption
scandals, and GoA market interventions as factors in the
interest rate differential. GoA sources choose to accentuate
the positive: the oversubscription of the Bonar X issuance,
with the GoA receiving bids for $1.9 billion in the May
auction, compared to $1.5 billion for the April auction.
With this transaction, the GoA will only need to raise
between $1.5 and 1.8 billion to complete its 2007 financial
needs.

---------------
Economic Policy
---------------

Economy Minister Announces Launch
of National Production Plan
----------------------------------
4. On May 11, President Kirchner and Economy Minister Miceli
convoked provincial economy ministers to announce the
development over the coming six months of a post-crisis
National Production Plan. President Kirchner said that on
the December 10, 2007, change of administration, "we will

leave hell" (i.e. the crisis period) and, bolstered by
dramatic drops in the levels of poverty and strong increases
in investment, Argentina will then be able undertake a
national debate on the nation's economic future. The
fundamentals of such an economic future, he said, would
certainly maintain the foundations of current economic
growth, including fiscal and trade account surpluses, export
growth based on a "competitive" exchange rate and expanding
investment in the productive economy. Minister Miceli noted
that the plan will address asymmetries in national income
distribution, particularly in impoverished northern provinces.

Rumor of Domestic Group Purchasing 25% of YPF
---------------------------------------------
5. On May 15, daily newspaper Cronista Comercial reported
that Spain's Repsol is currently negotiating the sale of 25%
of Repsol's Argentine subsidiary YPF to a local group.
Repsol representatives have not provided details on the
potential buyers, due to a confidentiality agreement.
However, Cronista and other local media report rumors that
potential buyers include: Enrique Eskenazi (President of
Banco de Santa Cruz, Santa Fe and Entre Rios), Jorge Brito
(President of Banco Macro), and other local businessmen with
close ties to the Kirchner administration. (Note: However,
Ambassador was told that the primary candidates are not those
mentioned in the press. End Note) Cronista quoted Powerful
Minister of Planning Julio De Vido saying that the government
welcomes partial local-ownership of YPF, which is the largest
oil company in Argentina and is valued at about $15-18
billion.

GoA Reaches Agreement with Beef Producers
-----------------------------------------
6. After about two months of protests by most beef-producing
associations, the GoA agreed to allow "reference" (i.e.,
fixed) prices to rise approximately 12%, permit a minimum of
500,000 tons of exports (a 25% increase) in 2007, as well as
provide some subsidies aimed at increasing future production.
The new prices are generally thought to be close to true
market prices. The butchers' association was also party to
the agreement to control prices. Questions remain about how
long the new price levels will be sustainable, and how
effective the subsidies will be, but this may be enough to
keep beef, which constitutes 4.5% of the CPI basket, on the
table and off the agenda until the October elections.

----------------
Economic Outlook
----------------

FDI flows to Argentina down 4% y-o-y in 2006
--------------------------------------------
7. FDI flows to Argentina were $4.8 billion in 2006, 4% lower
than in 2005, according to ECLAC's recent publication.
Argentina's share of FDI flows to Latin America was 6.7% in
2006, down slightly from its 7% share in 2005. Argentina had
received an average share of 14.4% of FDI inflows into Latin
America between 1992 and 2000. Even if the purchase of YPF
by Spain's Repsol and FDI directed to privatizations in the
1990s (which meant high FDI inflows) were excluded from the
data, Argentina's average share of FDI in Latin America was
still 8.8% in 1992-2000. According to Embassy calculations,
Argentina's 2006 share of Latin American FDI inflows would
have been 11.1% if Argentina's FDI share had tracked with GDP
growth as it did in 1992-2000, and all other variables had
remained constant. (Note: this estimate excludes the
purchase of YPF and the 1990s privatizations from the
calculation of the 1992-2000 average.)

Argentina's Export Performance
Comparison with other Emerging Economies

----------------------------------------
8. Argentine exports will have grown an estimated 40.4% from
2002 to end-year 2007, a 7% annual average. However, the
Argentine share of world exports was 0.40% in 2002,
decreasing slightly to 0.39% in 2006. In comparison, Chilean
exports are expected to grow by 92.4% during the same period,
for a 14% annual average. The Chilean share of world exports
was 0.28% in 2002, increasing to 0.48% in 2006. Also,
Brazilian exports are expected to grow 64% from 2002 to 2007,
a 10.4% annual average, and the Brazilian share of world
exports was 0.94% in 2002 up from 1.14% in 2006. The table
below shows the results of a comparison of export growth and
real GDP growth for major emerging market countries exports
in the 2002-2007 period (with projections for end-year 2007),
modeled after UCLA Professor Arnold Harberger's analysis of
the growing relative importance of international trade (Trade
and Economic Growth, Part I; National Center for Policy
Analysis, May 2006). Harberger analyzed periods of high
economic growth during the last four decades, concluding that
the empirical evidence shows that real export growth was
higher than real GDP growth in the great majority of high
growth periods. Argentina is among those exhibiting the
worst exporting performance vis-a-vis GDP growth.

Table: Comparison of Real GDP and Export growth

State Export growth Real GDP Growth % Excess
(2002-07 avg (2002-07 avg Xpt/GDP
annual %) annual %) Growth
(2002-07)
--------------------------------------------- -
India 21.02 8.38 12.64
Serbia 16.15 5.94 10.22
Peru 15.24 6.09 9.15
Chile 13.98 5.12 8.87
Poland 12.09 4.32 7.77
Brazil 10.41 3.11 7.30
China 17.11 10.04 7.07
Romania 11.79 6.03 5.76
Korea 8.98 4.20 4.78
Ukraine 11.47 6.78 4.69
Venezuela 11.18 7.24 3.94
Uruguay 9.94 6.33 3.61
South Africa 7.74 4.14 3.61
Ecuador 8.53 4.93 3.60
Russia 10.01 6.72 3.29
Hungary 6.13 3.68 2.46
Turkey 8.34 6.04 2.29
Singapore 8.76 6.62 2.14
Colombia 7.55 5.41 2.13
Thailand 6.38 5.31 1.06
Mexico 3.27 3.37 (0.10)
Malaysia 4.91 5.74 (0.82)
Indonesia 4.38 5.42 (1.04)
Israel 3.14 4.21 (1.07)
Taiwan 2.95 4.42 (1.46)
Argentina 7.02 8.50 (1.48)
Panama 4.62 6.73 (2.11)
Philippines 2.30 5.30 (3.00)
Hong Kong 2.09 5.94 (3.85)

Data Source: IMF
WAYNE

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