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ECONOMY | 11-02-2020 08:39

IMF mission team extends Buenos Aires trip to full week

Spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund confirms that mission team will stay full week in Argentina, longer than three days originally planned, with talks over nation's debt burden set to enter crucial stage.

A team of experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), due to arrive in Argentina this Wednesday for crucial talks with the government, have extended their visit by a further four days to "permit a deeper dialogue," officials confirmed Monday.

The news underlines the importance of the meetings that begin this week, as President Alberto Fernández's attempt to renegotiate Argentina's heavy debt burden begins in earnest. On Tuesday, a number of international news outlets described the negotiations as "do or die" for the government, further ramping up the pressure. 

In comments the Times gained access to on Monday, an anonymous source within the IMF said that the Fund's mission team would stay a full week in Buenos Aires for crunch talks with the government – an extension from the originally planned three days.

"A technical mission team from the IMF will visit Buenos Aires from February 12 to 19 to continue ongoing dialogue about the economic programme of the Argentine government and the economic perspectives for the country," a spokesperson for the Fund said, describing the trip as "an opportunity to learn more about the authorities' strategy" towards dealing with Argentina's debt burden.

The IMF's mission team will be headed by Julie Kozack, the IMF's deputy director of the Fund's Western Hemisphere Department, and Luis Cubeddu, the IMF’s mission chief for Argentina. The team will remain in the Argentine capital until February 19 "to permit dialogue and deeper work on [debt] issues," a Fund spokesperson said.

Officials from the institution will meet with representatives from the Economy Ministry, Central Bank and other organisations, the source confirmed.

The IMF said the mission team will release a statement regarding its visit and the outcome at the end of its stay in Argentina.

Last week, Economy Minister Martín Guzmán and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva met with Pope Francis, among others, on the sidelines of a conference at the Vatican, during which the Argentine pontiff offered his strong support for Argentina's attempts to renegotiate its debt load. 

The government is hoping to renegotiate US$195 billion (around 57 percent of GDP) out of a total debt of US$311 billion – according to the latest official figures – including the deeply unpopular US$44 billion bailout loan from the IMF granted in 2018 under the Mauricio Macri administration. The initial credit-line was worth some US$57 billion, though President Fernández renounced the final tranches of the loan.

The IMF had previously confirmed that a "technical mission" team would visit Buenos Aires in February "to continue to exchange views on macroeconomic plans and debt sustainability.”

James Grainger

James Grainger

Editor-in-Chief, Buenos Aires Times.

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