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Argentina clinches near-unanimous backing for debt restructuring

Argentina has successfully restructured almost all of its $65 billion debt with private creditors in a major milestone that will enable the country to put an end to its ninth sovereign debt default.

Martin Guzmán, Argentina’s economy minister, announced on Monday that 99% of creditors had accepted his government’s offer, which extended maturities on the debt and lowered interest rate payments from an average of 7% to about 3%.

“May we never again enter this labyrinth [of indebtedness], please,” President Alberto Fernández said in a speech, flanked by regional governors and leading members of congress.

“Know that in 10 years’ time, in 2030, Argentina will owe $38 billion less than what we owed last year,” he added.

The debt exchange, which will enable creditors to swap their old U.S.-law bonds for new ones, puts an end to a tense and often acrimonious four-month-long negotiation process that appeared at times to be in danger of collapsing.

The Argentine government will now focus on restructuring its $70 billion debt with multilateral institutions - including $45 billion borrowed from the IMF in 2018-19 by right-wing President Mauricio Macri amid his failed re-election campaign.

Argentina's hard currency-denominated foreign debt tripled under Macri's 2015-19 administration to $250 billion.

At: https://www.ft.com/content/e3e8b783-9455-46f3-946f-15c31a29778b

Argentine President Alberto Fernández heads today's press conference in Buenos Aires, flanked by Vice President Cristina Kirchner and other officials and governors.

The refinancing agreement, reached August 4 but made official today, would allow Argentina to emerge from default, push most payments past 2025, save $38 billion in upcoming interest payments, and potentially re-enter global credit markets.

SpaceX launches satellite for Argentina into polar orbit

Space X launched a satellite for Argentina's space agency, CONAE, from Florida on Sunday evening that will monitor weather and agricultural conditions.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off with the SAOCOM 1B satellite at 7:18 p.m. EDT from Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Clouds that had threatened a delay cleared right before launch time.

The Argentine mission was the first polar orbit launch from Cape Canaveral in more than 50 years.

To reach that orbit, the rocket headed south over the Atlantic Ocean. Most other launches from Florida fly east.

According to the mission description for the program, the satellite's data on soil moisture "will help producers know the best time for sowing, fertilizing and irrigation, in crops such as soybeans, corn, wheat and sunflower."

The first of two Argentine Microwave Observation Satellites (SAOCOM) went into orbit in October 2018; SAOCOM 1B is the eighth Argentine satellite launched since 1996.

"The launch of the Saocom 1B is a milestone because it will be the first time that Argentina has a constellation of earth observation satellites," the head of the SAOCOM project, Josefina Péres, noted.

At: https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2020/08/30/SpaceX-launches-satellite-for-Argentina-into-polar-orbit/8001598542392

The head of Argentine Space Commission's SAOCOM project, Josefina Péres.

Sunday's satellite launch, according to Péres, gives Argentina a "constellation of satellites" working together as a single system.

Argentina declares internet, mobile and pay-TV services 'essential'

Argentina’s Congress has approved an August 21 decree declaring internet, mobile and pay-TV services “essential” and preventing operators from hiking prices until the end of the year.

“As we face the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, nobody should have to give up part of their income to cover price increases on those services,” President Alberto Fernández tweeted, pledging to “guarantee access for everyone.”

Telecom lobbyist GSMA warned, however, that “far from guaranteeing access to all citizens, the provisions jeopardize the quality of consumer services.”

Earlier this year, Argentina's operators accepted the government’s request to freeze telephony, internet and pay-TV rates until the end of August to help family budgets affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The rate freeze has now been effectively extended until the end of 2020.

Argentine telecom rates have risen 8% so far this year, compared to 64% in 2019. During the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration (2015-19) - when rates were deregulated - telecom affordability fell by 32%.

The watchdog also said sector investments must be targeted at reaching the most disadvantaged during the pandemic and beyond.

Argentina has among the region's widest access to telecom services, with 83% of households online and 84% with mobile phone service - though nearly 40% of those without a high school degree lack these services.

At: https://www.telecompaper.com/news/argentina-declares-internet-mobile-and-pay-tv-services-essential-freezes-prices--1351387

Argentine Communications Regulator Claudio Ambrosini (left) discusses telecom policy with President Alberto Fernández.

Fernández considers telecom and internet “a constitutionally recognized right” - particularly given their central role in virtual classes held nationwide amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Their declaration as essential services follows similar policies in (among others) Canada, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, and South Korea.

IAEA chief to visit Iran this week seeking 'concrete progress' in inspections standoff

UN atomic-agency boss Rafael Grossi says he will travel to Iran on August 24 to seek "concrete progress" in a dispute between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Tehran over nuclear "safeguards" and blocked inspections in Iran.

It will be Director-General Grossi's first trip to Iran since taking over leadership of the agency eight months ago and comes amid a mounting standoff between the IAEA and Tehran over access to two sites where nuclear activities might have occurred - with the United States pressing for reimposing UN nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran.

"My objective is that my meetings in Tehran will lead to concrete progress in addressing the outstanding questions that the Agency has related to safeguards in Iran and, in particular, to resolve the issue of access," Grossi said of the trip.

Grossi has accused Iran of denying access to the two locations for six months, and said that for almost a year "it has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify our questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities."

"We need this cooperation," Grossi said at the time. "I regret that at this point we have this disagreement."

At: https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-nuclear-grossi-iconcrete-progress-inspections/30797106.html

IAEA Director Rafael Grossi.

The Argentine-born Grossi - the first IAEA head from Latin America - has pressed Iran for access to two known nuclear sites since taking office in December.

UK records deepest recession among top economies

Britain has suffered the deepest recession among the world’s top economies this year, shrinking by a fifth in the second quarter alone when much of the economy was mothballed as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The 20.4% Second Quarter drop is the worst since quarterly records began in 1955, the Office for National Statistics said - and means Britain is in recession for the first time since 2009.

Britain’s recession is deeper than those recorded by comparable economies in Europe - notably Germany (-10.1%), France (-13.8%), Italy (-12.4%), or the United States (-9.5%).

Canada and Japan, the remaining members of the G-7 leading industrial nations, have yet to publish their second-quarter numbers but no economist thinks they will be as bad as the U.K.’s.

At: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/uk-economy-officially-recession-204-q2-slump-72321579

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses workers at MTX, a leading British construction firm, recently.

Johnson's Britain, which leads Europe in Covid-19 deaths at nearly 47,000, also leads major economies as far as the severity of its 2nd Quarter downturn.

Argentina to co-produce coronavirus vaccine with Mexico

Argentine President Alberto Fernández has announced that Argentina and Mexico will co-produce millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by scientists at the University of Oxford, for distribution across Latin America.

Fernández, speaking at a press conference at the Olivos presidential residence this evening, said that the two countries would be in charge of the Latin American production and distribution of a vaccine created by Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca, a Swedish-British pharmaceutical group.

Argentina will be in charge of producing “the active substance,” with Mexico finishing “production and packaging” of up to 100 million doses.

He said that Argentina - where AstraZeneca operates both lab and production facilities - “could be in a position to vaccinate” by the first quarter of 2021.

Both countries have been hard-hit by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with Argentina recording over 5,200 deaths and Mexico, 54,000.

Latin America has recorded around 227,000 Covid-19 deaths thus far - some 30% of the world's total.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/argentina-to-produce-coronavirus-vaccine-from-university-of-oxford.phtml

Argentine President Alberto Fernández (center) discusses today's vaccine production and distribution agreement with Health Minister Ginés González García (second from right), and AstraZeneca Argentina officials Agustín Lamas and Agustina Elizalde.

Today's agreement envisages the production and distribution for Latin America of up to 100 million doses by March 2021, in collaboration with AstraZeneca Mexico.

Family seeking legal action after bodycam video shows alarming arrest of 8-year-old boy

The family of an 8-year-old boy who was put into handcuffs at an elementary school in Key West, Florida back in 2018 is planning on filing a lawsuit after bodycam video of the alarming arrest was recently made public.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is now representing the family, shared the video Sunday on his Twitter account, writing:

“Unbelievable!! @KWPOLICE used “scared straight” tactics on 8yo boy with special needs. He’s 3.5 ft tall and 64 lbs, but they thought it was appropriate to handcuff and transport him to an adult prison for processing!! He was so small the cuffs fell off his wrists!”

Officers responded to the school on Dec. 14, 2018 after police say the boy punched his teacher in the chest.

At: https://whdh.com/news/family-seeking-legal-action-after-bodycam-video-shows-alarming-arrest-of-8-year-old-boy/


Hawaii Democrats tap Kai Kahele for Tulsi Gabbard's House seat

Hawaii state Sen. Kai Kahele is favored to be going to Congress after winning Saturday’s Democratic primary to succeed Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in the deep-blue 2nd District.

Kahale, an airline pilot and combat veteran who spent the weeks before the primary deployed with the Hawaii National Guard, was leading a four-candidate field with 77 percent of the vote with 68 percent of precincts counted. The Associated Press called the race at 7:22 p.m. Hawaii time. Brian Evans was in second with 9 percent.

The election was held by mail.

Kahele will face Republican Joe Akana, a business development consultant.

At: https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/09/hawaii-democrats-tap-kai-kahele-for-tulsi-gabbards-house-seat/

Hawaii State Sen. Kai Kahele, who won the Democratic primary Saturday for the open 2nd District House seat.

The seat is currently occupied by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who opted out of running for re-election amid mounting disapproval from fellow Democrats.

Brazil becomes 2nd country to cross 100,000 deaths

Brazil became the second country to top 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, according to its Ministry of Health.

The country's official death toll stood at 100,477 after it reported 905 deaths in the previous 24 hours.

Only the U.S. - at more than 162,000 - had previously crossed into six figures. Mexico, at just over 51,000 deaths, is third globally.

Brazil's death rate of 473 per million people compares to 631 in Peru, 523 in Chile, 498 in the U.S., 100 in Argentina, and 94 worldwide.

At: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/coronavirus-live-updates-brazil-becomes-2nd-country-to-cross-100-000-deaths/ar-BB17IV1q

A projection on a building in Rio de Janeiro reads "100,000 Victims of (Brazilian President Jair) Bolsonaro" as the country became the second to pass the milestone in COVID-19 fatalities.

Argentina clinches deal with creditors to restructure $65 billion debt, bonds rise

Source: CNBC

Argentina’s government announced early Tuesday morning it had reached a deal with creditors to restructure $65 billion in sovereign debt, drawing a close to months of negotiations rife with gridlock and disagreement.

Three creditor groups — the Ad Hoc Group of Argentine Bondholders, the Exchange Bondholder Group, and the Argentina Creditor Committee — will now help Argentina to restructure its debt and offer it significant debt relief.

Latin America’s third-largest economy, already in default, has for months left billions of dollars worth of bonds in default as its economy is hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rising poverty and unemployment, as well as soaring interest rates amid an already two-year-long recession, had the country of roughly 45 million in dire financial straits even before the virus hit.

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/04/argentina-clinches-deal-with-creditors-to-restructure-65-billion-debt-bonds-rise.html

Argentine President Alberto Fernández and Economy Minister Martín Guzmán during a recent conference call with bondholders.

Today's agreement would allow Argentina to emerge from default, push most payments past 2025, save over $30 billion in upcoming interest payments, and potentially re-enter global credit markets.

Guzmán's restructuring proposal, amounting to 54.8 cents on the dollar, is supported by most international observers as well as the IMF.
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