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ECONOMY | 21-01-2022 22:44

United States confident Argentina will reach IMF deal, says senior official

Washington is confident Argentina will reach an agreement with the IMF to restructure its multi-billion dollar debt, and is ready to support that process, a senior US official said Thursday.

The United States is confident Argentina will reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to restructure its multi-billion dollar debt, and is ready to support that process, a senior US official said Thursday.

"We want to see a strong, prosperous, successful Argentina and we expect Argentina to reach an agreement with the IMF and we look forward to supporting that process," Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said in a teleconference.

"The relationship between our two countries is longstanding and positive, and we want to be as supportive as we can," he added.

Asked whether he considered the signing of a new deal between Argentina and the IMF to be imminent, Nichols noted the "very positive" meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero in Washington on Tuesday.

The United States, the IMF's main shareholder, is key to a new agreement with Argentina, the institution's main debtor. 

Argentina has for months been seeking a new deal with the IMF to replace the US$57-billion stand-by agreement loan signed by Mauricio Macri's government in 2018. The country has received US$44 billion to date.

The government of President Alberto Fernández, who upon taking office in 2019 waived the remaining US$13 billion of the loan, is seeking a new financing agreement with the Fund that will reduce Argentina's fiscal deficit through growth, not by cutting public spending. The Peronist leader has vowed not to adopt "austerity" measures as part of any deal.

During his meeting with Cafiero, Blinken "encouraged Argentina to present a sound economic policy framework that will return the country to growth," US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday.

Nichols, who participated in the bilateral meeting, also spent time with Cafiero during a dinner on Tuesday with US President Joe Biden's top adviser on the Americas, Juan González.

Foreign Ministry sources told AFP that González told Cafiero that the White House supported for Argentina's negotiations with the IMF.

Argentina's gross domestic product grew by around by 10 percent in 2021, after falling by 9.9 percent in 2020. But it is weighed down by poverty reaching 40 percent of the population and inflation running at an annual rate of more than 50 percent, one of the highest rates in the world.

– TIMES/AFP

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