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IMF: Talks with Argentina over crisis loan are 'very active'

Officials are working to conclude the talks as rapidly as possible, Gerry Rice, spokesman for the Washington-based global crisis lender told reporters.

Thursday 6 September, 2018
Nicolás Dujovne speaks to the press after talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC.
Nicolás Dujovne speaks to the press after talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC. Foto:AFP-ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS

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Talks with officials from the Mauricio Macri administration to strengthen and accelerate a crisis loan package for Argentina's trouble-stricken economy are "very active," a spokesman for the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

Officials are working to conclude the talks "as rapidly as possible," Gerry Rice, a spokesman for the Washington-based global crisis lender, told reporters.

Rice declined to provide any details on the terms under discussion, including whether Argentina would seek additional funding beyond the US$50 billion, three-year loan approved in June.

"I can't preempt those discussions," he said, noting that debt sustainability is something that will be reviewed. "The dialogue is very active right now."

Treasury Minister Nicolás Dujovne and his team arrived in Washington earlier this week to negotiate terms to allow a more rapid disbursement of IMF funds. The country has received US$15-billion so far, but any changes required approval from the IMF board.

But Dujovne on Wednesday denied he was seeking additional funding, saying the existing amount "is what is needed."

President Mauricio Macri is under increasing pressure as the peso has plunged by nearly 50 percent against the dollar this year – despite intervention from the Central bank, which has pushed interest rates up to 60 percent, a global high – and the recession worsens.

And he is facing growing opposition from the public for seeking help from the IMF, which has a bitter history in the country and is blamed for the economic woes.

However, Rice stressed, "Argentina is very different today than it was the last time it engaged with the IMF, and the IMF is a very different institution."

- TIMES/AFP

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