South America

Farmers are lobbying against the Argentine government’s proposal to sweeten an offer on its overseas debt with payments tied to agriculture exports, Bloomberg News reported. Economy Minister Martin Guzman, who’s leading talks to restructure $65 billion of foreign debt, has put the idea on the table, though some creditors favor coupons linked to economic growth.

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Latin America’s No. 2 carrier Avianca Holdings reported a $121 million loss for the first quarter late on Monday, accounting for just two weeks of severe impact from the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported. The airline was the first in the region to file for bankruptcy protection in the United States and spent a full three months grounded without operating any regular flights. It has since restarted some operations in Ecuador, but its hubs in Colombia, El Salvador and Peru remain closed.

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Passenger revenue at Latin America’s No. 2 airline, Avianca Holdings, has fallen 51% for the year as of early June compared with a year ago, the carrier said, in a look into the dire financial toll that the coronavirus has taken on the company, Reuters reported. Colombia-based Avianca was the first airline in the region to file for bankruptcy protection, after the coronavirus added financial strain to the already weak carrier. The revenue figure shows just how bad second-quarter results are likely to be for Latin America’s airlines.

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Investors holding debt protection for Argentina are set to share compensation of some $1.5 billion after the South American nation defaulted on its foreign debt for a ninth time last month, Bloomberg News reported. Firms holding the country’s credit-default swaps will receive about 68.5% of the amount covered by the instruments, according to the final results of an auction to settle the contracts on Friday. They get triggered when a borrower fails to pay its debt. Investors use the instruments to make negative bets on borrowers or as hedges for bond investments.

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Argentine President Alberto Fernandez is facing resistance from the agriculture industry, businessmen and even pot-banging citizens after announcing a decision to seize one of the world’s largest soy meal and oil exporters, Vicentin SAIC, Bloomberg News reported. Argentines from Buenos Aires to the northern city of Avellaneda, where Vicentin is headquartered, protested against the expropriation. On Wednesday evening, the sound of banging pots and pans could be heard in the capital, a traditional form of protest.

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Latin American countries should quicken steps for airlines to renew domestic flights no later than July before more companies are forced to declare bankruptcy or close, a high-ranking official of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday, Reuters reported. The trade group estimated losses for airlines in Latin America at $4 billion this year, with total losses for the industry expected to reach $84 billion globally. Latin America has imposed stricter travel restrictions than most regions to fight coronavirus.

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A second wave of Covid-19 would deepen this year’s recession in Latin America’s three largest economies by more than 1 percentage point, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Bloomberg News reported. Argentina and Brazil would suffer the biggest hits, shrinking by 10% and 9.1%, respectively, while Mexico would contract by 8.6%, Paris-based OECD said in a report published on Wednesday. A possible second wave of the virus could come between October and November following the easing of containment measures currently in place, the organization said.

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The head of the International Monetary Fund called on private creditors to join the Group of 20 in providing debt relief for the world’s poorest nations, saying that the alternative to suspension and restructuring is defaults, Bloomberg News reported. A debt-service suspension would provide time for restructuring debt on a case-by-case basis in countries where debt sustainability needs to be restored, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a webcast with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.

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Argentine President Alberto Fernandez dipped into the play book of his deputy, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, with a plan to seize crop trader Vicentin SAIC in a move that’ll ring alarm bells in soy markets and among investors in the country, Bloomberg News reported. Fernandez’s government will take control of Vicentin for the next 60 days as it seeks congressional approval to expropriate the agricultural powerhouse, which filed for bankruptcy last year after being caught out in currency swings.

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Emerging and developing economies will shrink this year for the first time in at least six decades, according to the World Bank, underscoring the mounting economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic as it spreads across the world, the Financial Times reported. The bank’s forecast is that as many as 100m people in the developing world will be tipped into extreme poverty by a projected 2.5 per cent contraction in emerging markets’ gross domestic product, with incomes per capita set to shrink 3.6 per cent globally. The bank defines extreme poverty as an income of less than $1.90 a day.

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