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Argentina defies economic gloom

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 02:19

Oct. 11 - With an election approaching on October 23rd Argentina, one of South America's largest economies, continues to enjoy boom times while the rest of the world is battling a financial crisis. Hayley Platt reports

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While much of the world is experiencing economic gloom Argentina is booming. Unemployment is low, shoppers are spending and businesses are hiring. But it wasn't always this way. Less than a decade ago workers at the Grissinopoli bread-stick factory were facing redundancy. Today it's a successful co-operative. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CO-OPERATIVE WORKER AT THE GRISSINOPOLI FACTORY, IVANA AGUERO, SAYING: "We started with this line - it was shut for nearly 17 years - we restarted it about 5 years ago and got it working again. We took care of the mechanics, and did everything ourselves. And now we're adding another shift because demand is growing." Argentina is Latin America's third biggest economy. It's once devastated construction industry is now thriving. And unemployment is 7.3 percent - its lowest level for 20 years. That's good news for Argentine President Cristina Fernandez - whose centre-left party is up for re-election (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ARGENTINE PRESIDENT CRISTINA FERNANDEZ, SAYING: "We've created 5 million jobs and we have to create 1.5 million more to be able to get to an unemployment rate - to match natural population growth - of 5 percent." Argentines will empathise with the Greeks - they suffered a financial and social crisis 10 years ago. The peso lost two-thirds of its value overnight, banks refused customers access to their own money and they defaulted on a debt of 100 billion dollars. It's largely recovered from those traumatic days. It's grain, soy and car exports are in demand - mainly from Brazil. But economist Marina Dal Poggetto has some concerns. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ECONOMIST, MARINA DAL POGGETTO, SAYING: "We're still competitive compared with Brazil. The next question is where Brazil's real will go. Then there's a much bigger question over the rate of salary increases in Argentina." Inflation is also slowing consumer spending and some analysts question whether Argentina can maintain its current 9 percent growth rate, especially when many parts of the world are facing economic turmoil. Hayley Platt, Reuters.

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Argentina defies economic gloom

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 02:19