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ECONOMY | 18-08-2023 15:24

IMF holds talks with Argentina's Javier Milei after primary win

IMF Western Hemisphere Director Rodrigo Valdés leads meeting with libertarian hopeful; Officials from multilateral lender also holds talks with opposition presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich.

Representatives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have shared an online video meeting with presidential candidate Javier Milei after the libertarian outsider stormed to victory in last weekend’s PASO primary election.

Officials from the multilateral lender met the previous day with economic advisers to opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich.

The Fund’s Western Hemisphere Director Rodrigo Valdés was the top-ranking official from the multilateral lender on the call with Milei, during which both sides discussed the “economic priorities” of the 52-year-old presidential hopeful for La Libertad Avanza.

"IMF Western Hemisphere director, Rodrigo Valdés, and other members of the IMF team, met virtually with Mr Milei and his team this morning," the multilateral organisation said in a statement.

"We also confirm that earlier this week the IMF team also met with Ms Bullrich’s economic advisors," it added.

In a press release, the IMF said "the discussion was an opportunity to exchange views on Argentina's current economic outlook and to understand” the libertarian candidate’s “policy priorities.”

The IMF insisted that "the meeting is part of the Fund's regular and routine contacts with a wide range of political and economic stakeholders, including IMF programme countries, to understand their views and opinions on the overall objectives and key policies of Fund-supported programmes."

Milei confirmed in the wake of his victory at the ballot box that IMF officials had contacted his sister, Karina Milei, to set up a meeting.

According to reports, discussions lasted 90 minutes. Milei was accompanied on the call by economic advisors Carlos Rodríguez, Roque Fernández and Darío Epstein.

"La Libertad Avanza made them aware of the set of reforms that will be made in the event of becoming president," said the party in a separate statement.

“The details of the proposal were as follows: Significant fiscal adjustment, more important than that demanded by the Fund itself; Unification of exchange rates; Closing the financial deficit, by reducing expenditure; Opening up the economy; An adjustment that will not be paid for by society or production, but by politics through a profound reform of the state; Promote a modernisation of labour laws; Promote a monetary reform that puts an end to the Central Bank,” it concluded.

Epstein, a close friend of Milei, posted on social media that the libertarian candidate had assured the Fund: "We are not going to default either to the IMF or the sovereign debt.”

"Javier Milei explained the economic and financial plan of the LLA and the three stages (generations) The IMF explained the nature of the current agreement and its expiry date. Javier clarified: ‘We are not going to default,’” wrote the economic adviser.

Economy Minister Sergio Massa, the presidential candidate for the ruling Peronist coalition, will travel to Washington next week for a series of meetings with the IMF over Argentina’s US$44-billion debt programme.

Argentina is awaiting approval from the IMF’s executive board for a series of disbursements that will cover repayments related to debt maturities. The first tranche will be worth at least US$7.5 billion.

Sources in the Economy Minister said that Massa would meet with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva after the agency's board signs off Argentina’s technical reviews.



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