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ECONOMY | 02-12-2021 16:15

Argentine officials travel to Washington for IMF talks

A technical mission team with officials from Argentina's Economy Ministry and Central Bank will travel to Washington on Saturday to meet with representatives from the International Monetary Fund.

A technical mission team with officials from Argentina's Economy Ministry and Central Bank will travel to Washington on Saturday to meet with representatives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Argentina is seeking to make progress in negotiations to refinance a debt of US$44 billion.

"They are meetings that will be held in the framework of a negotiation, to continue working in the search for an agreement, which we all expect to happen soon," Presidential Spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti said Thursday at her weekly press conference when asked about the mission.

An IMF spokeswoman said a team from the crisis lender would meet the Argentine delegation "to deepen technical discussions toward an IMF-supported programme." The Argentine delegation will be received by "a team of IMF officials led by Julie Kozack and Luis Cubeddu in Washington DC starting this weekend," they confirmed.

Argentina is seeking to replace the three-year stand-by agreement for US$57 billion granted in 2018 to the government of former president Mauricio Macri (2015-19), of which US$44 billion has been disbursed. After taking office in December 2019, President Alberto Fernández refused to accept the rest of the loan.

The current agreement obliges the repayment of maturities in 2022 and 2023 worth more than US$19 billion each year, with another US$5 billion due in 2024.

Argentina, the IMF's biggest debtor, has been in recession since 2018 and is seeking to renegotiate the loan. Officials are seeking a Extended Fund Facility programme that would allow deadlines to be postponed and lengthened.

So far this year, the country has made a US$1.9 billion down payment on the loan, and paid US$1.3 billion in interest. 

The government has said it will make a further US$1.8 billion down payment by December 18.

If no agreement is reached, Argentina would have to pay the rest to the Fund in installments through 2024, with the lion's share to be reimbursed in 2022 and 2023.

The new Argentine mission to the Fund "is eminently technical, so no contacts with the press are expected," a government source told the AFP news agency, confirming that neither Economy Minister Martín Guzmán or Central Bank Governor Miguel Angel Pesce would form part of the delegation.

According to the Ámbito Financiero newspaper, the delegation will be headed by Sergio Chodos, the representative for Argentina and the Southern Cone on the IMF board.


– TIMES/AFP/NA
 

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