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Argentina's foreign portfolio investment positive for first time in 8 years

Argentina recorded net capital inflows of about $1.54 billion in 2016, which represents the first time in eight years that the balance of foreign portfolio investments has been positive, El Cronista reported Jan. 18, citing data from the central bank.

In 2015, the central bank reported net capital outflows of $47 million.

The main reason for the positive balance in 2016 is the end of exchange rate controls under the government of President Mauricio Macri, which has made Argentina more attractive for foreign investors, according to the report.

The last time Argentina posted a positive balance in foreign portfolio investments was in 2008, before the subprime crisis curtailed investment.

But although the increase in 2016 is "an important qualitative jump… and a big step for Argentina," the country still needs greater foreign direct investment to spur the economy, Ramiro Castiñeira, an economist at Econométrica, reportedly said.

Total foreign direct investment in Argentina reached $2.52 billion in 2016, up from just $57 million in the previous year, but even more investment is expected in 2017, the report said.

"If Argentina continues to normalize its economy, the expectation is that its capital account will grow along with foreign direct investment," Castiñeira was quoted as saying.