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ECONOMY | 27-02-2020 16:11

IMF says debt talks with Argentina are 'conversations, not negotiations'

IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice tempers excitement over debt restructuring, noting that Argentina and the IMF have yet to formally open negotiations over how to restructure US$44 billion credit-line.

Gerry Rice, the spokesman of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said Thursday that that there is still no negotiations ongoing between Argentina and the institution over how to refinance the US$44 billion the country owes.

As for talks between the Fund and the Alberto Fernández administration, Rice told reporters Thursday that the two sides were having "conversations"  – not "negotiations."

"The intense dialogue between the Argentine authorities and the IMF continues," the IMF spokesman told reporters in Washington, describing the dialogue as "very constructive."

Last week, an IMF mission team concluded that Argentina's debt burden was "unsustainable" and indicated that private bondholders would have to make a "meaningful contribution" in restructuring talks – comments many analysts implied as tacit approval for the government to push through a haircut on money owed. The government also confirmed that it would allow the IMF to conduct a so-called 'Article IV review,' a preliminary step that could eventually allow for a new programme with the Fund.

"There was a continuous and active dialogue between the Argentine authorities headed by [Economy] Minister Martín Guzmán and those from the Fund, which in recent days continued a very important meeting in Riyadh in the G20. And we published a statement which indicated that we would continue with the revision of Article IV and to talk about the programme in the future," added Rice.

However, the official then said pointedly that talks with Argentina "are not negotiations for a new programme, but are conversations."

"Argentina did not ask for a new programme," he clarified.

In Rice's words, "it is very valuable" that Argentina has accepted the Article IV review since, from 2004 to 2015, this step had not been accepted by the Executive.

In addition, he said that the global economy will grow less due to the impact of the coronavirus, which pushed back the indicators of the world's main markets, as well as of regional economies tied to China's growth.

"The virus is going to have an impact on global growth. There is a lot of uncertainty, there is a lot we don't know yet, what we are doing is possible scenarios," Rice said.

—TIMES/NA

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