Argentina unveils ‘shock therapy’ reforms

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The package contains over 300 measures to battle the country’s severe economic crisis

Argentine President Javier Milei has announced sweeping economic reforms in a bid to combat the worst economic crisis in the country in decades.

They include the privatization of state-owned companies, as well as steps to end limits on exports and loosen price controls.

The newly elected president, who describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist, signed a decree on Wednesday setting out over 300 measures as part of his “economic shock therapy.”

“I’m signing an urgent decree that will kick-start the process of economic deregulation that Argentina needs so much,” Milei said in a televised address.

“The objective is to return freedom and autonomy to individuals and start dismantling the enormous amount of regulations that have impeded, hindered, and stopped economic growth,” he added.

Milei has set out a list of initial policy changes, which include a “modernization of labor law to facilitate the process of creating real jobs” and a series of other deregulatory measures affecting tourism, satellite internet services, pharmaceuticals, wine production, and foreign trade.

His plan comes one week after Argentina’s new government announced a 54% devaluation of the peso, cuts to energy and transportation subsidies, and a freeze in spending on some major state programs.

There are also plans to hike taxes for Argentina’s grains exports – a key source of global supply for processed soybeans, corn, and wheat.

The initiative was met with harsh criticism from agriculture groups who warned that the measure would harm the industry. Grain exports are a major source of foreign currency reserves for the country’s central bank and are needed to finance imports and repay debts.

The changes have already proved divisive as thousands took to the streets of Buenos Aires on Wednesday to voice their discontent over the government’s austerity plans and to demand more support for the poor.

Latin America’s third-biggest economy is challenged by a severe economic crisis after decades of debt and financial mismanagement, with annual inflation surpassing 160% and 40% of Argentinians living in poverty.

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