Last week, Coca-Cola allegedly told its Argentine distributors that it was reviewing its 2016 US $1 billion investment in Argentina after the administration’s push to increase taxes on soft drinks, much to the chagrin of those in the Argentine sugar industry. The soda giant allegedly stated to La Nación its decision to look into the investment. Though the Macri administration backtracked its decision on a booze tax last week, it still plans to move forward with a soft drink tax, which would increase from 4-8 percent to 17 percent. In part, Coca-Cola considered its purchases of fruit, particularly citrus (lemons!), and juices.
Yesterday, the President of Coca-Cola Latin America, Alfredo Rivera, wrote to President Mauricio Macri to assuage any fears, stating that the speculated revision was “not communicated by our company” and denied that conversations on any review. A Coca-Cola statement pledged that the company “has a strong commitment to the development of Argentina, including the 200,000 jobs made from the agriculture production to small and medium sized businesses throughout the country.” The statement also emphasized that Argentina is key in the global operations of the company.
It’s certainly been a tango for US-Argentina bilateral relations, in both public and private sectors. There has been significant progress with investments in the automobile industry, but the biodiesel chess game has proven difficult. And at this point, it seems that the fight for lemons will be a lifelong battle. Growing pains exist in all relationships, and the stark changes in administrations on both sides over the last few years have not made it easy. Glad there’s no need to panic, because let’s be real, we’ll always choose Coca-Cola over Pepsi when it comes to Fernet.