Two years after the collapse of Argentina’s economy, including the withdrawal of foreign investments, the country is back on its feet and ready to move forward, said Argentine Consul General Carlos Layus, who recently arrived in Atlanta to fill the post vacated by Natalio Jamer.

Mr. Layus entered Argentina’s Commercial and Economic Foreign Service in 1977. He held his first post in Brussels from 1978-83 at the Argentine Mission to the European Economic Community. He served as the consul in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 1986-92 and was deputy consul general in Chicago from 1994-99.

Mr. Layus cited consumer confidence, sound fiscal policy and good exchange rates as reasons for a budding economic recovery. Low inflation and growth in the auto, textile and tourism industries are evidence of his country’s rebound, he told GlobalAtlanta in an interview at his Peachtree Center office.

Argentina’s 8.7 percent economic growth last year exceeded International Monetary Fund projections by more than 3 percent. However, Mr. Layus said such data is more reflective of how far Argentina’s economy had fallen than true growth.

Still, “The increase in the economy is very welcome,” he said. “It is mainly because, slowly, the people started to have confidence in how the country is being run. President Nestor Kirchner and his administration have done a very good job so far in tackling issues the right way.”

“We have economic stability again. The exchange rate was maintained at $2.90 to $2.85 for the last year and a half,” Mr. Layus said, explaining that the previous monetary policy artificially set the value of the peso to $1. When the policy changed, the peso dropped significantly in value, he said.

In addition, “The inflation rate is very low,” he said.

“Exports are also growing, slowly, but they’re growing,” Mr. Layus said, in particular, car exports to Brazil.

Tourism has increased, too, but not because of the good exchange rate only, he said. Like the United States, Argentina has a very diverse geography within the same time zone.

However, Mr. Layus said, “We need to have more economic activity based on our ability to export. Having more access to big markets, like the United States, is essential to us.”

He told GlobalAtlanta that quotas on various agricultural products and duties on certain products are issues that must be negotiated to reach an agreement on the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

The consulate remains hopeful those concerns can be resolved, stating, “The hemisphere needs to be united and to face competition from other regions…we are all conscious that we have to make a big effort.”

In alliance with its Mercosur trade partners – Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – Argentina is also activity pursuing trade relations with China, the European Union, India and South Africa, he said. In addition, Argentina recently signed a trade agreement with the Andean countries.

For more information, contact the office of the Argentina Consulate General at 404-880-0805.

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