Mercado Libre will create 2,800 jobs in Argentina this year, increasing by 40% its workforce in the country; it is a significant challenge in a 100% virtual work environment. One thousand one hundred positions will be in technology development; 800 in shipping; 500 in customer service; 200 in administration and finance; 100 in fintech, and a similar number in other areas.
The Government is negotiating with China a package of investments in infrastructure works. Total disbursements will be around $35 billion. Among the priority projects are the construction of the Atucha III nuclear power plant. A consortium of Chinese banks led by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) will finance it. It foresees a concession-type loan of $ 7.9 billion, which would cover 85% of the reactor's price. This amount would make the nuclear power plant the most significant Chinese investment outside its borders.
Drug exports totalled $84.5 million in the first two months of 2021, which implied an increase of 14.8% in values and 65.4% in quantities compared to the same period of 2020. The difference in the variations in values and amounts is due to the sharp 29.3% drop in the average export price in the period analyzed.
The number of motorcycles patented in the whole country grew 76.5% year-on-year and almost 40% monthly last March, with 34,291 units. It is worth clarifying that in March 2020, motorcycles could only be registered until the 19th, one day before the mandatory isolation due to the pandemic began.
The lithium industry represents an excellent opportunity to develop renewable energies and sustainable mobility worldwide. Argentina can play a strategic role in this global scenario: it is the third-largest lithium producer and the third-largest reserve in the world. Today in Argentina, there are two lithium mines in operation, one under construction and 17 advanced projects. In this total of 21 extraction projects, it has resources for 93 million tons. The ten most significant-scale projects account for 86% of the resources identified. Once the projects currently under investigation are advanced, it estimates that they can extract 350 thousand tons per year.
The price of soybeans jumped more than $25 in the Chicago market on Wednesday, while corn advanced about $10, boosted by new U.S. planting estimates that were lower than those projected by traders.
Sales of new vehicles totalled 36,591 units in March, which represented an increase of 105.3% year-on-year concerning the same month of 2020 when the government implemented the mandatory preventive isolation due to the coronavirus. March sales were 20% higher than last February.
Naturgy reported losses in Argentina of 14.715 billion pesos ($160.15 mn) for the year ended December 31, 2020. The Spanish-owned company is the second-largest gas distributor in the country and has kept its tariffs frozen since April 2019.
The BMW automotive group announced that it had signed a $334 million contract with the U.S. mining company Livent, which is in charge of lithium extraction in the Salar del Hombre Muerto, in Catamarca, Argentina. This agreement will make Argentina the second-largest lithium producer in the world as of 2022. BMW to buy lithium in Argentina for $334 million.
Edenor and Edesur, the two largest electricity distributors in the country, yesterday raised the need to apply increases of between 28% and 34% in residential tariffs this year. They clarified that if the Government decides not to raise tariffs on users, the companies would need subsidies for 54,260 million pesos ($590.68 mn) to maintain the current services.