Economy Minister Martín Guzmán said Wednesday that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) "will take a while" yet, and that it would be "acceptable" timeframe to have a new programme agreed by March or April 2021.
"It's going to take a while, but we're moving forward at a solid pace," Guzmán said in a videoconference hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-based think tank.
Argentina, which has been in recession since 2018 and has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, is seeking a new financing programme with the IMF and to restructure its existing repayment schedule for US$44 billion in debt.
A mission team from the International Monetary Fund recently concluded its second visit to Buenos Aires for talks. A statement from IMF officials issued at the end of November said the Fund was beginning to outline the "contours" of a new financing programme. An Argentine delegation is currently in Washington continuing talks.
Argentina's outstanding debt of US$44 billion dates back to a record US$57-billion credit-line granted to Mauricio Macri's government in 2018. Issued amid a currency crisis, President Alberto Fernández rejected the outstanding tranches of the loan upon taking office last December.
Guzmán indicated that his government will attempt to make its stabilisation plan for the country's economy a "state policy," adding that any deal agreed with the Fund will be sent to Congress for approval by lawmakers.
The minister said back in November that it would be "healthy" for Congress to approve decisions to borrow in foreign currency in the future.
Argentina's economy is expected to shrink by 11.8 percent this year, according to the IMF, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic, though most private estimates expect a deeper contraction.
Inflation over the last 12 months stands at 37.2 percent, while poverty now affects 40/9 percent of the population.