Argentina's Current Economic and Political Situation
Noriega, Roger F., DISAM Journal
[The following are excerpts of the remarks presented to the Subcommittee on International Trade and Finance, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Washington, D.C., March 10, 2004.]
Argentina is a close and valued ally of the United States, has been through much over the last several years. We are pleased that it has now begun its economic and social recovery. Mr. Quarles and others will certainly highlight the economic and financial background and the latest status of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) negotiations. I simply want to add that the Bush Administration is united in wanting to see Argentina succeed over both the short and long-term, and believes it can do so by fully meeting its commitments under its IMF program.
Since assuming the presidency in May 2003, President Kirchner has sought in his own words to make Argentina a more predictable nation, one whose word can be relied upon. He also has sought to root out corruption, restart the Argentine economy and refurbish Argentina's stature in the world. We believe he has made an important start on these daunting challenges, aided by the talented Argentine people, who strongly support him. Congressional and provincial elections last year also showed strong support for the new government. As a result of this voting, President Kirchner's party has a majority in both houses of Congress, holds sixteen of the country's twenty-four governorships, and is now well-positioned to seek the reforms critical to Argentina's future progress. On the economic side, for example, these reforms include revising the system of revenue sharing between the Federal and provincial governments.
Bilaterally, President Kirchner and his government have maintained a policy of close contact with the United States. President Kirchner has met twice with President Bush since taking office in the Oval Office in July 2003, and in Monterrey at the Special Summit of the Americas in January 2004. At both meetings, President Bush underscored that we want Argentina to succeed, but that it also needed to help itself.
This Administration regularly discusses economic issues with the Argentine government at the highest levels. In these discussions, we also raise commercial and business process issues that U.S. firms have experienced and relayed to us. Neither we nor the government of Argentina, however, have lost sight of the other ties that link us including those in the political, trade, cultural, scientific, educational and social areas.
Our deep and broad relationship permits us to address cooperatively a range of issues. One specific area of continued engagement is counter-terrorism. Argentina suffered devastating terrorist attacks in 1992 and 1994, and our shared experience with terrorist attacks on our home soil creates a special bond between our countries. The U.S. works closely with Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay through the 3 + 1 regional cooperation mechanism to fight terrorism, money laundering, and drug and arms trafficking in the tri-border area. We also cooperate closely in the non-proliferation and scientific spheres, to cite other areas.
I also want to highlight Argentina's important role in seeking to advance the cause of democracy, peace and stability in this hemisphere and elsewhere. …