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Argentine reform moves slowly

For an economy that has recently been growing at 9% a year, it is remarkable how little energy investment has been made in the country, writes Robert Cauclanis

SINCE the economic crisis five years ago, the Argentine government has made life difficult for energy companies. It has kept natural gas and power prices on hold, maintained a 45% tax on crude exports and encouraged consumer boycotts of fuel retailers when they have tried to lift pump prices for gasoline and diesel. Refined products have been selling at a 40-50% discount to international prices. This has discouraged new investment upstream and downstream. There is little talk of deregulating energy prices – such a move would be politically unpopular ahead of this year's presidential election. Similarly, the government has no plan to repeal energy export taxes. And the $35-40 producers fetch

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