Friday, March 2, 2012

Cristina, Respol YPF, The Adonia and British imports

As Cristina and her government step it up a gear in their dispute with the United Kingdom, this week pretty much banning the import of British products and turning away a cruise ship because it had previously visited the Falklands/Malvinas, they have now begun to antagonise Spain too hinting more and more at the possibility of state intervention at the Spanish oil and gas company, Repsol YPF.

To begin the week, between twenty and thirty CEOs of companies which have increased their imports from Britain during the last year were contacted by Argentine Industry Minister Deora Giorgi and urged to replace those purchases with supplies from other countries. Argentina’s chief diplomat in Britain, Osvaldo Marsisco was summoned to the Foreign Office in London, which in a statement said,

“The UK is the sixth largest investor in Argentina, and we import from Argentina significantly more than we export to them, so it is firmly not in Argentina's economic interest to put up these barriers to trade. The latest decisions are counterproductive.”

The European Union is now beginning to look into the matter, highlighting legitimate trade concerns, while one MEP, Nerj Deva, has called for an end to British aid to Argentina. (The UK is currently contributing £7 million of a £64 million EU development funding programme).

The UK Foreign Office has also been in contact with P&O Cruises after its ship The Adonia was refused entry at the port of Ushuaia last Monday.

The cruise ship had called at the Falklands/Malvinas two days earlier and was not permitted to berth in Ushuaia where a sign states that English Pirate ships are banned. A further complete show of disrespect to Scotland and Wales as Argentines continue with their failure to realise the islands are British Oversees Territory and not English.

And as if not content with an increasingly damaging dispute with the United Kingdom, CFK has now decided she wants to get a piece of Spain too.

Spanish Foreign Affairs Minisiter Jose Manuel García Margallo has stated that his country is doing all it can to defend the interests of Spanish companies in Argentina. His comments came as Spanish media reported that Executives of the Spanish owned oil and gas company Repsol YPF have become more fearful of the Argentine government’s interest in the company.

The Spanish company Repsol became Repsol YPF in 1999 when it merged with YPF. Originally a state owned Argentine company founded in 1922 during the presidency of Hipólito Yrigoyen, YPF (Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales) had been privatised by President Carlos Menem and sold to Repsol in 1993 before the eventual merger.

A sometimes furious Cristiana Fernández de Kirchner has been accusing the company of not investing sufficiently and is blaming them and other oil companies for the domestic fuel supply problems which have seen Argentina’s bill for fuel imports soar to $US11 billion.

After an attempt to sit government officials on Repsol YPF’s board of directors, reports suggested that the Argentine government was preparing a legal framework to take over the company, whose operations in Argentina are under the operation of the Argentine Peterson Group. It emerged yesterday that following a call from King Juan Carlos of Spain, CFK has agreed to form a working group to discuss differences regarding the issue.

On a positive note, Argentina has confirmed that its Olympic team will participate in the London games this summer. Thank goodness for that. They would be so missed if they didn’t show up.

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