The International Monetary Fund is in the early phase of talks with Argentina over a new rescue package, and is gathering information on how best to help the crisis-hit nation, a fund official said Thursday.
"We are in the initial stages of the process," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters, noting that fund officials are focused on "fact finding" and "listening to the Argentine authorities for their sense of priorities."
After defaulting on its debt in May for the ninth time in history, the government of President Alberto Fernández in late August reached a deal with foreign creditors to restructure US$66 billion in debt after months of tense negotiations, giving it US$37.7 billion in debt relief.
Once a deal seemed assured, Buenos Aires formally opened consultations with the IMF to agree new terms on the repayment of a US$44 billion bailout loan agreed in 2018 (the original credit line was worth US$57 billion, though not all of it was received by Argentina).
The talks with the Washington-based crisis lender are "taking place in what I would characterise as a very constructive climate," Rice said at a press conference, but there is no date yet for a sending a mission to Argentina to further the discussions.
Key topics in the talks include the government's "plans to strengthen macroeconomic stability, kick start growth and job creation and reduce poverty, unemployment and, of course, to help Argentina fight the pandemic, which is an additional serious challenge," the official said.
Argentina's troubles have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than a third of the country's population of 44 million living in poverty.
Inflation stands at 40 percent and the IMF expects Latin America's third largest economy to shrink by 10 percent this year.