Argentina Bets on Farmers to Spur Economic Growth

Wall Street Journal WSJ-01Since President Maurico Macri took office a year ago, his market-friendly policies haven’t jump-started Argentina’s ailing economy. Overall output is shrinking, unemployment stubbornly high and industrial production tanking.

But it is a different story out on the green pastures that once made this country rich. Argentina’s vaunted grain farmers, hamstrung for more than a decade by price controls at home and high taxes on exports, are planting at a record pace this year now that Mr. Macri is clearing away those hurdles.

Agriculture could drive a 3.5% economic expansion in 2017, a sharp upturn from an expected 2.5% contraction this year, said Fausto Spotorno, chief economist at Orlando J Ferreres & Associates, a Buenos Aires-based consultancy.

“Farmers are becoming the first motor of the economic turnaround,” Mr. Spotorno said.

Mr. Macri’s predecessors, Cristina Kirchner, and before her, husband Néstor Kirchner, raised export taxes to help fund popular poverty-fighting programs and pay for 300,000 new federal workers, according to the Cippec policy think tank in Buenos Aires. …



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