The International Monetary Fund has announced that its managing director for the Western Hemisphere, Alejandro Werner, will step down.
Werner, who has been in the role since 2013, will retire on August 31, the IMF confirmed in a statement. The former Mexican government official has been heavily involved with talks with Argentina to restructure its US$44-billion debt with the multilateral lender.
“Alejandro led the department through very challenging times and leaves it on a firm footing to carry on the work of assisting our member countries throughout the region,” said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. “I deeply appreciated his expertise, sound judgment, and advice and am thankful to him for his excellent service and support.”
The IMF chief said that Werner had “strengthened the Fund’s presence in Latin America” and “deepened engagement with its Caribbean and North American member countries.”
Georgieva said that the Mexican official had helped nation’s hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic to “obtain more than $60 billion in emergency financing from the Fund.”
Werner’s tenure will in retrospect likely be remembered for the reopening of ties with Argentina after years of turbulence and the granting of the record US$57-billion credit-line to the country in 2018, a deal agreed with the Mauricio Macri administration.
It failed to resolve a currency crisis and, upon taking office in December 2019, Macri’s successor, President Alberto Fernández refused the remaining tranches of the loan.
Negotiations are now dragging about Argentina’s repayment schedule, with the nation’s economy still gripped by recession, runaway inflation and rising unemployment.
The government initially wanted to agree a new financing programme with the IMF by the end of May, though that is now seen as unlikely. President Fernández has said the loan is “unpayable” under its conditions agreed back in 2018.
The search for Werner’s successor will begin shortly, said Georgieva.