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ECONOMY | 06-11-2020 18:27

IMF to launch talks with Argentina over new loan next week

IMF confirms mission team will arrive in Argentina to start talks with the government over a new financing programme next week.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Friday it will start talks with the government of crisis-ravaged Argentina on a new rescue package next week.

The Washington-based crisis lender will send a team to meet with officials in Buenos Aires starting Tuesday, November 10, to discuss the country's challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic, including debt owed to the fund, an IMF spokesman said.

The mission will "launch formal negotiations... on a new programme with the IMF to support the economic plan of the government," the spokesman said in a statement.

However, "there is no date set to finalise the negotiations."

Even prior to the pandemic, Argentina was facing a severe economic crisis despite massive IMF lending in recent years, and the fund said the Covid-19 crisis exacerbated already high unemployment and poverty rates.

Buenos Aires is hoping to renegotiate repayments on a US$44-billion loan from the IMF in 2018. The credit line was originally meant to be US$57 billion, but President Alberto Fernández halted disbursements when he took office in December 2019. The first repayments are due in September 2021.

The fund spokesman said the goal is to "help the people of Argentina overcome the complex socioeconomic challenges the country faces and lay the foundation for a more stable economy."

In August, the government managed to restructure more than US$66-billion in foreign debt that was worth 54.8 cents on the dollar.

Argentina has been in recession since 2018, and inflation is currently running over 40 percent. More than 40 percent of the population currently lies beneath the poverty line.

– TIMES/AFP

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