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ECONOMY | 11-03-2021 23:32

Guzmán to hold talks with IMF in Washington on March 23-24

Economy minister's trip to Washington for talks with IMF officials, including Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, will take place before the end of the month.

Economy Minister Martín Guzmán will meet with officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington in 10 days time, the multilateral lender confirmed Thursday.

“We continue to actively, constructively engage with the Argentine authorities as they work on laying out their economic plan that could be supported by a Fund programme, said IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice.

“Minister Guzmán has indicated that he will come to Washington for meetings with IMF staff, and, indeed with the Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, and that's going to be on March 23 and 24,” he confirmed.

“I would expect those meetings, again, to focus on how the IMF can help the government put in place those policies that can help foster stability; be the basis for more sustainable, inclusive private-sector led growth with a strong emphasis on protecting Argentina's most vulnerable people,” he added.

Argentina is negotiating a new programme with the IMF to push back payments on the US$44 billion the country owes the institution from the record US$57-billion credit-line granted to the country in 2018, under former president Mauricio Macri.

Although plenty of time remains to negotiate, no substantial progress has been made between Argentina and the IMF in the six months since Guzmán sealed a US$65-billion debt restructuring agreement with private creditors. 

Even prior to the pandemic, Argentina was facing a severe economic crisis and dragging recession. The economy, which contracted by 10 percent last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to grow by 4.5 percent according to IMF forecasts.

The coronavirus crisis exacerbated already high unemployment and poverty rates, and President Alberto Fernández’s government still needs to renegotiate repayments to the IMF, which are due to begin later this year.

Guzmán initially expressed hopes that a deal could be sealed by early May, though IMF officials and President Alberto Fernández have indicated over the past week that they are in no rush to seal a deal. 

Quizzed about rumours that talks could be extended until after Argentina’s October 24 midterm elections, Rice told reporters Thursday he has no further details on a timetable.  

"The discussions are ongoing, they are active and they are constructive and it is known that it will take time for them to eventually lead to a programme," the official said.

Rice refused to comment on recent statements by President Fernández that he would pursue a criminal complaint against Macri, alleging a fraudulent use of the loan and remarks that the Fund held a share of the responsibility for Argentina's economic crisis.



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