With its economic measures, Milei is trying to seduce managers of Spanish companies present in Argentina | Economy

Argentina's President Javier Milei has taken advantage of his three-day visit to Spain to… unusual meeting with representatives of major Spanish companieswhich were led by the president of the employers' organization CEOE, Antonio Garamendi. The president dedicated the meeting, which started at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and lasted more than an hour, to presenting the economic program with which he aims to combat the hyperinflation that the country is experiencing and open investment opportunities for the private sector, according to several sources familiar are with the meeting. Milei was accompanied by the new Argentine ambassador in Madrid, Roberto Bosch, and by his powerful sister, the general secretary of the presidency, Karina Milei.

Taking advantage his participation this Sunday in an event with international far-right leaders In Madrid, Milei called on the first leaders of Spanish companies present in Argentina. But the response was not the same in all cases. The meeting, which took place at the residence of the Argentine ambassador in Madrid, was attended by the President of Iberia, Marco Sansavini; the CEOs of Banco Santander, Abertis and Econener respectively, Héctor Grisi, José Aljaro and Luis de Valdivia; Mapfre's first vice president, José Manuel Inchausti; the head of BBVA for South America, Jorge Sáenz de Azcunaga; and Telefónica Hispam executive president Alfonso Gómez.

Alonso Aznar was also present among the group of businessmen. The son of former Prime Minister José María Aznar is director of Strategic Alliances at Consello Group, a financial consultancy. Executives from AB Living, DIA, Naturgy, Pypsa, Rothschild and Unir were also present, the embassy said in a statement. The family photo released by the Argentine embassy after the meeting shows Milei with the fifteen attendees, all men, next to the ambassador. Invitations were also sent to other important Spanish companies with Argentine subsidiaries such as Gestamp, Técnicas Reunidas, Codere, Meliá or Prosegur, according to sources familiar with the details of the event.

The President of the CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, upon arrival at the meeting with the President of Argentina, Javier Milei,FERNANDO VILLAR (EFE)

The far-right president's speech lasted more than an hour, according to sources from several companies participating in the meeting, with one describing the speech as “very subdued.” During this period, Milei exposed her economic recipebased on major cuts and popularly known as the chainsaw, of which the first results recently praised the International Monetary Fund. The Argentine president has ripped off the battery Strong measures have been proposed to reform the country's economy – the third largest economy in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico – including achieving a stable framework to attract foreign private investors. One of the current barriers to this is that Argentina's annual inflation rate is 289.4%, one of the highest in the world.

After Milei's intervention, representatives of Spanish companies took up the challenge. Garamendi, in turn, was the one who spoke most extensively, while the directors of the various companies limited themselves to explaining their investments in Argentina. Several people familiar with the content of the meeting point out that they hardly presented any new business plans, apart from maintaining their presence in the South American country.

Argentina's President Javier Milei was flanked on Saturday by Argentina's ambassador, Roberto Bosch, and his sister, Karina Milei.
Argentina's President Javier Milei was flanked on Saturday by Argentina's ambassador, Roberto Bosch, and his sister, Karina Milei. Freedom progress

When the meeting was over, Milei assured the press he was waiting at the embassy doors, and from the official car, that the meeting was “fantastic.” Likewise, he has indicated that during his next trip to Spain scheduled for June to receive an award from the liberal entity Instituto Juan de Mariana, He also does not expect a meeting with the Spanish government. On this visit, the first since he settled in Casa Rosada on December 10, he did not ask to meet the President of the Government nor an audience with King Felipe VI, an unusual fact for a Latin American leader. . At the beginning of the month, both heads of government faced a diplomatic clash, when the Spanish Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Óscar Puente, suggested in a conclave that the Argentine president had taken 'resources'.

In addition to the media, a group of supporters stood nearby waiting for the departure of the Argentine president, chanting: “President, president” and “Strength, strength.” On the contrary, upon his arrival at the diplomatic complex, Milei was met with the protest of activists of the Femen organization who, with bare chests, shouted: “Milei is not freedom, it is fascism.” At the same time, almost 200 people gathered in Madrid's Plaza de Callao to demonstrate against the policies of the far-right government. “Milei, fascist, you are the dictatorship” or “fascists get out of our neighborhoods,” were some of the proclamations heard, as reported by the Efe agency.

Several Femen activists protest before the arrival of Argentine President Javier Milei for a meeting with businessmen.
Photo: FERNANDO VILLAR (EFE) | Video: EPV

In search of normality

A problem shared by large Spanish companies operating in Argentina is the inability to freely access the foreign exchange market and send dividends to their parent companies. “We are resolving the issue of dividends. Once we're done, we'll open the shares. It is in our plans to open it as soon as possible,” Milei confirmed last Wednesday during an event with local businessmen in Buenos Aires.

The Argentine Central Bank, one of the most reviled enemies of politics, recently allowed banks and companies to buy bonds to enable normalization in this area. For example, Santander's local subsidiary, the most important private entity in terms of deposit volume in Argentina, was authorized on May 3 to pay dividends of 247 million euros.

But the new deregulation policy could also have consequences for the activities of other Spanish companies outside the financial sector. In April, Argentina's government revoked a rule approved in 2020 that regulated mobile phone service, cable TV and internet access. Telefónica will operate in a free market environment, although it feels the encouragement of the government, in the face of the heavyweight of telecommunications in Latin America, the Mexican Carlos Slim. The state scrapping bill, which must be debated by Argentina's Senate before the end of the month, also includes changes to the aviation sector, allowing companies like Iberia to operate domestic flights in a market without minimum prices.

Milei will take part this Sunday in an event organized by Vox, where the presence of the leader of the French far-right Marine Le Pen is also expected. Interventions by Hungarian President Viktor Orbán and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni are planned telematically. Vox leader Santiago Abascal will host an event aimed at launching the continental ultra-parties in the pre-campaign of the European elections on June 9.

Before these elections thirty major German companies published a letter this week in which they called on pro-European parties to vote and warned against the Alternative for Germany (AfD), the main far-right force in the country.

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