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Cablegate: Kirchner Promotes Investment in Argentina During

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DE RUEHBU #2120/01 2611608
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O 181608Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5935
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UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002120

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E FOR THOMAS PIERCE, WHA FOR WHA/BSC AND WHA/EPSC
EX-IM BANK FOR MICHELE WILKINS
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PASS USTR FOR SUE CRONIN AND MARY SULLIVAN
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV EFIN ENRG PREL AR
SUBJECT: KIRCHNER PROMOTES INVESTMENT IN ARGENTINA DURING
VISIT TO NEW YORK FOR UNGA, BUT FACES SKEPTICAL PRIVATE
SECTOR

Summary
-------
1. (SBU) President Kirchner travels to New York for the UNGA
with the stated objective of enticing U.S. companies to
invest in Argentina, even as local press plays up the chilly
bilateral relationship. Kirchner has a limited official
schedule -) including meetings with UNSG Kofi Annan and
Italian Prime Minister Prodi -- and is giving priority to
high-profile business events on his schedule, including
ringing the opening bell at the NYSE and attending a Council
of Americas dinner in his honor. Wall Street bond traders
and bankers remain skeptical of the medium term
sustainability of Argentina's heterodox economic policy mix
and will give him a cautious greeting. However, despite
price controls, distortive export tariffs, and increasing
government intervention, many U.S. manufacturing and service
companies operating in Argentina are profitable and growing,
so Kirchner can expect a reasonable amount of private sector
attention. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Local media and Post's business contacts report that
Argentine President Kirchner's trip to New York City to
attend the 61st UN General Assembly meeting will focus on
strengthening ties with the U.S. private sector and
encouraging additional U.S. foreign direct investment.
Although Kirchner is scheduled to speak on September 20 to
the UNGA, and will also meet with UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan and Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi, his focus is
reportedly to highlight the role of his administration's
fiscal and monetary discipline in building trust in the GoA's
management of the economy.

3. (SBU) The highlight of the visit will be Kirchner's
breakfast meeting at the New York Stock Exchange on September
20, after which he and his wife, Senator Cristina Kirchner,
will ring the opening bell. Government officials are selling
this to Argentine media as a special honor, reserved only for
those who command the respect and confidence of Wall Street.
Kirchner will use this event and the September 21 Council of
Americas' (CoA) dinner in his honor to send a strong signal
that investors are welcome. Planning Minister Julio De Vido
will make a similar pitch during a BCIU lunch on September
18.

4. (SBU) President Kirchner's wife, Senator Cristina
Kirchner, plans separately to participate in several academic
events at the Columbia University and the New School, and
will also meet with heads of leading Jewish civic
organizations in New York. She will reportedly work to
dispel the notion that there is growing anti-Semitism in
Argentina, and reportedly will also work to downplay any
perceived threat to Argentine bilateral relations with the
U.S. resulting from the Kirchner administration's
strengthening ties to Venezuelan President Chavez.


5. (SBU) Even as the local press has emphasized that Kirchner
heads to the U.S. at a time when the bilateral relationship
has cooled -- following U.S. votes against and abstentions on
IDB loans to Argentina and the U.S. decision to review
Argentina's GSP benefits ) the media has downplayed the
limited official contact scheduled between Kirchner and U.S.
officials.

6. (SBU) In addition to Kirchner's government delegation,
which includes selected Ministers, Mayors, and Provincial
Governors, he is accompanied by a group of prominent local
business leaders, including Ernesto Gutierrez, head of
airport management company Aeropuertos Argentinas 2000, who
will have a separate agenda focused on strengthening
commercial ties with the U.S. and other countries in the
region.

Comment
-------

7. (SBU) Private international financial institutions,
especially on Wall Street, have been vocal in their criticism
of Kirchner's heterodox economic policies ) price controls,
export tariffs, and increasing government intervention -- in
the run up to his NYC visit. The IMF has also warned of the
GoA's inflationary monetary policy and price controls'
adverse impact on investment in key sectors (i.e., energy).

8. (SBU) Despite this skepticism, the Argentine economy
continues to grow and large U.S. investors are profitable and
selectively increasing investment. Wal-Mart is enjoying
growing sales and expanding aggressively, John Deere reports
that 2005 was its best year in Argentina since 1954, and both
Cargill and GM have invested hundreds of million in new
production capacity since 2001/2002. These and other U.S.
companies continue to see Argentina as a reasonably important
market with long term potential for growth. So, while
Kirchner may not receive the warmest welcome from Wall
Street, he will likely receive a respectable reception from
U.S. companies participating in the NYSE and CoA events. End
Comment.
MATERA

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