The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Argentine ambassador talks ag before elections

Argentine Ambassador to the United States Cecilia Nahón, right, answers questions from Women's Foreign Policy Group President Pat Ellis at a recent event at the embassy. (Jerry Hagstrom/The Hagstrom Report)

Argentina has never exported as much in grains as it has in the last few years, but the nation’s economy still needs to diversify beyond agriculture, Argentine Ambassador to the United States Cecilia Nahón said in a recent program sponsored by the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.

“Argentina certainly has an actual gift — a great agricultural capacity,” Nahón said at a September 30 event at the embassy focused on the upcoming Argentine elections.

In recent years, partly due to technological advances, production and exports have increased, Nahón said. Value-added agriculture and biodiesel have both developed in the last years, she added.

But she added that Argentina “can't live on agriculture,” and that the Peronist government she represents has gone to great efforts to develop the industrial sector.

Argentina’s exports are now divided equally among agricultural commodities, manufactured agricultural products and industrial goods. The United States is the No. 1 foreign direct investor in Argentina, but in trade Brazil and China are more important. The United States and Argentina are cooperating on aerospace projects including a joint satellite, she said.

Argentina tried what was known as the “Washington Consensus,” a free market model, before the election of the current government, Nahón said, but “it didn’t work very well,” and in the early 2000s the country had a political, economic and cultural crisis.

Under the Peronist government’s policy of “social inclusion,” Argentina’s recovery was under way when the 2008 world financial crisis occurred, Nahón said.

The election to choose a successor to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election, will be “free and transparent” and will allow voters to choose the economic model they want, she said.

The general election is scheduled for October 25, but there could be a runoff, Nahón said.

The current government has not gotten along well with major farm groups. Their leaders say that Argentina’s taxes on agricultural exports put them at a disadvantage with competitors.