LatAm Daily Briefing: Argentina Hails Debt Agreement; Another Brazilian Govt. Official Tests Positive; Costa Rica Reopens to Tourism

4 August: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

4 August: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

Argentina’s government announced on Tuesday it has finally reached agreement with three major creditors to restructure more than $65 billion in foreign debt, according to local media. The deal was struck hours before the August 4th deadline was due to expire. The government has now pushed the date to August 24th, "to give effect to the agreement," which came after months of wrangling and several deadline extensions. The Economy Ministry said the deal "will allow members of the creditor groups and such other [bond] holders to support Argentina's debt restructuring proposal and grant Argentina significant debt relief." The bonds represent around a fifth of the country's overall $324 billion debt burden, which amounts to around 90% of GDP.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s chief of staff has tested positive for Covid-19. Army General Walter Souza Braga Netto is the seventh Brazilian minister to have contracted the virus. Braga Netto is doing well and has no symptoms, the office said in a statement. He will remain in isolation until a new examination and medical evaluation is carried out, and will continue to work remotely. In late July, Bolsonaro’s wife and one of his ministers tested positive for the virus, as well as Bolsonaro, but who later said he had tested negative. Brazil has the second-worst Covid-19 outbreak in the world after the US, with a death toll to date of 94,665.

Chile is to link up with Australia and New Zealand via a submarine cable across the Pacific planned by Japan, and which circumvents China. The Chilean government has announced plans for the 13,128km cable that will connect it to Sydney and Auckland, and bidding for the contract to lay it will be launched next year, according to news portal Total Telecom. Initial investment in the project is estimated to be around $500 million. “This is the first initiative that will connect the region with Oceania and finally with Asia, opening enormous opportunities for Chile to become the digital hub of South America on the Pacific side, making it an attraction for various investments such as data centers and related to digital commerce,” Chile’s Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Gloria Hutt, was quoted as saying.

Costa Rica has reopened to international flights following the travel ban imposed to stem the spread of Covid-19. The first flights began arriving on Monday but will only receive a maximum of five flights per week from the European Union, the Schengen Area, the UK and Canada, and only through the capital San José’s Juan Santamaría International Airport. Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura described the reopening of the airport as “a drop of hope” for the tourism sector, as the number of incoming flights only represents 1% of the former frequency prior to the pandemic. Incoming passengers must carry a certificate proving they are free of the Covid-19 virus, as well as travel insurance to cover possible hospitalization in the event of infection.

Ecuador is to increase its maritime trading routes after Dutch shipping line Seatrade Reefer Chartering announced it will link the ports of Puerto Bolívar and Guayaquil with Paita in Peru, Paramaribo in Suriname and the port of Dunkirk in France. The line’s decision comes a year after it extended its North Europe French West Indies service, operated by CMA CGM in conjunction with Marfret, with the addition of the ports of Moin, in Costa Rica, and Cartagena and Santa Marta in Colombia, according to news portal Fruitnet. The new link is an initiative of French importer SIIM, a pineapple producer in Ecuador for the European market. The weekly service will further enhance the position of the port of Dunkirk as the leading French port for temperature-controlled products. The new routes will increase the market share of Dunkirk in the fruit and vegetable sector, for bananas, pineapples, avocados and tropical fruits.

New vehicle sales in Mexico will likely be 30% below 2019 figures this year, according to the country’s association of auto distributors (AMDA), in what it called the best-case scenario, while the worst-case scenario would see a drop of 46.8% for the year. Light vehicle sales saw a 16% increase in July in comparison with the previous month however, totaling 72,897 units, according to the national statistics agency INEGI. Sales has plummeted in April as a result of the lockdown imposed in March to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, and July’s figures, while an increase on June, were a 31.2% drop in comparison with July 2019, INEGI said, according to La Jornada newspaper. Sales figures from January-June show a 31.7% drop over the same period of last year.


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