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Argentina Lowers Barriers to Foreign Investment in Public Works

Construction cranes are seen in a residential area in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept. 20, 2016.

A measure aimed at lowering regulatory barriers to foreign investment in Argentine public works projects was given final approval by Congress on Wednesday, a step welcomed by the government as it seeks to pull the country out of recession.

The initiative, known as the Public Private Partnership law, was backed by President Mauricio Macri. He won office a year ago on promises of increasing market confidence in Latin America's No. 3 economy after eight years of tension between the private and public sectors under previous leader Cristina Fernandez.

"This measure will allow the state to create jobs while improving people's lives by re-activating the economy and public works," Senator Roberto Basualdo said during the debate.

The law, which passed by a 42-15 vote, seeks to attract investment to road, energy and housing projects. It says at least 33 percent of contracts must go to Argentine companies.

"This law is defeatist and goes against the national interest," opposition Senator Fernando Solanas said. "It's just one more measure allowing colonization and abuse."