Thursday, May 23, 2024

ECONOMY | 06-09-2022 18:05

Sergio Massa holds first meetings with US government in Washington

Economy Minister Sergio Massa meets with officials from the US government as trip to Washington begins in earnest.

Argentina's Economy Minister Sergio Massa met Tuesday with officials from the United States government as he began his trip to Washington in earnest.

The meetings came at the beginning of a key week for the minister, who will also visit Houston before heading home. Crucial meetings with staff from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including facetime with Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, is also on the cards.

"The main objectives are to convey that, on the one hand, we are going to work with the IMF, to close what was left pending for [former economy minister] Martín Guzmán," a government source who requested anonymity told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.

Guzmán, the architect of Argentina's US$44.5-billion debt renegotiation deal with the multilateral lender, resigned his post at the beginning of July and was replaced by Silvina Batakis, who didn’t even last a month in the post.

Under the agreement Guzmán renegotiated with the Fund earlier this year, Argentina committed to reducing the fiscal deficit from three percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2021 to 2.5 percent in 2022, 1.9 percent in 2023 and 0.9 percent in 2024.

Coinciding with Massa's visit, a delegation of Argentine officials have been in Washington since Monday meeting with IMF technical staff to “work on the second review of the programme," an IMF source told AFP on Tuesday.

"The teams, which have been working closely together virtually, will continue discussions on the macroeconomic outlook and on policies to strengthen stability and ensure compliance with the programme's objectives," they added.

President Alberto Fernández’s government is seeking to “resolve some investments from the  real economy," the source in Argentina told the agency.

Massa met on Tuesday with US chief of diplomacy for Latin America Brian Nichols and Undersecretaries of State Ricardo Zuniga and Mark Wells.

"We discussed the agenda of global food security, energy, protein and development with inclusion," Massa said in a tweet.

Later this afternoon he was due to meet with the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Mauricio Claver-Carone, with whom relations have been strained in recent months.

Massa wants to  unblock the disbursement of US$800 million for Argentina, which has been frozen since Alberto Fernández questioned the IDB's management at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles back in June.

In addition Claver-Carone – who is under investigation for an alleged scandal – suspects that Argentina is one of the countries behind an anonymous complaint accusing him of having a romantic relationship with an IDB colleague and of corruption. 

In the evening, Massa will hold a working dinner with Juan González, US President Joe Biden's special advisor for Latin America.

The much-anticipated meeting with the managing director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, is scheduled for next Monday.

Massa is also due to meet with the Fund's first deputy managing director Gita Gopinath and the director of the Western Hemisphere Department, Ilan Goldfajn, while in the United States.



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