Last week I was in beautiful Argentina with a diverse team of investors and mining executives, including my good friend Frank Giustra; Ian Telfer, founder of Silver Wheaton and current chairman of Goldcorp, which has sizeable investments in Argentina; and Serafino Iacono, chairman of Pacific Exploration and Production (formerly Pacific Rubiales), which is active throughout South America.
Together we toured various natural gas and crude oil mining projects in Tierra del Fuego, Mendoza and Santa Cruz, where we had the opportunity to speak with Governor Alicia Kirchner, elder sister to former Argentinian president Néstor Kirchner.
One of the highlights of the trip was meeting with current president Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires. Macri, as you might know, was elected in late 2015 on his credentials as a businessman and former mayor of Buenos Aires. His administration ends more than a decade of socialist rule by Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernández, who was indicted this past December on corruption charges.
Even with Macri at the helm, corruption remains a problem in Argentina. The South American country currently ranks 95th in Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index, but economic conditions are improving. After contracting 1 percent in 2016, country GDP is expected to grow as much as 2.8 percent this year. Macri’s mission to make Argentina great again has already led him to abolish currency controls, return to world credit markets, attract foreign investors and set in motion a plan to reduce the fiscal deficit. After that, he hopes to get around to tax reform. In the meantime, there’s the energy sector. …