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Lavagna Considered Skilled Negotiator - 2002-04-27

Argentina's next economy minister, Roberto Lavagna, is described as a skilled negotiator who has close ties to lawmakers from across Argentina's political spectrum.

His newest challenge is to chart a course for government action that will bring the economy back from the brink of financial collapse. After he is sworn in Saturday, Mr. Lavagna will attend a strategy session with President Eduardo Duhalde.

The 60-year-old Mr. Lavagna is a prominent economist and former commerce secretary who advocates strong trade ties to the international community.

Analysts say the former Harvard University researcher has shown a willingness to comply with International Monetary Fund demands that Argentina reduce government spending as a condition for renewed IMF assistance.

Mr. Lavagna has served as Argentina's ambassador to the European Union and has represented his country at the World Trade Organization.

He also was the driving force behind the formation of the South American trade bloc known as Mercosur. The four-nation bloc groups Argentina with Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Bolivia and Chile are associate members.