Argentine president tells US business group her country is a solid place to invest

By Dibya Sarkar, AP
Friday, April 9, 2010

Argentine leader predicts success on bond dispute

WASHINGTON — Argentina’s president predicted Friday that her government’s multibillion-dollar debt-swap offer next week will resolve a long-running legal standoff with American bondholders.

Cristina Fernandez’s speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was intended to reassure investors ahead of a $20 billion debt-swap offer Wednesday that Argentina is counting on to resolve remaining lawsuits stemming from what she called “the big bang.” That’s a record $95 billion default in 2001 that has made it difficult for the country to borrow internationally.

“This new debt exchange is a new opportunity for Argentina and also for its international prestige, and we’re confident it will succeed,” she said.

Most of Fernandez’s speech focused on what she said was the country’s improving financial picture, including growth in the gross domestic product, trade surpluses and an emphasis on job preservation.

She said her country offers favorable business opportunities for U.S. companies and investors. Argentina’s skilled labor force and competitive exchange rate make the country a good place for companies to compete globally, Fernandez said.

She praised Ford Motor Co.’s announcement Wednesday of a two-year, $250 million investment to produce a new vehicle in Argentina. She also said information technology and software companies from India and other places are moving to Argentina.

Peter Hakim, former president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington, said he wondered if Fernandez changed any minds among those skeptical of the debt-swap offer.

Fernandez put the “most stable brush” on Argentina’s economic and government performance but was light on details about the debt-swap offer and how it might resolve the lawsuits, Hakim said. “People had to walk away from that (speech) with the same questions.”

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