IMF and Argentina cite progress in $45 billion debt talks

FILE PHOTO: The IMF logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

July 13, 2021

WASHINGTON/BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -The International Monetary Fund and Argentine Economy Minister Martin Guzman flagged “progress” in debt talks after meetings between the two sides in Italy concluded, with the country looking to revamp the roughly $45 billion it owes the Fund.

The Fund, in a statement on Tuesday, said meetings in Venice from July 8-12 had helped push forward the talks and that the two sides will continue working together towards a deal.

“The Argentine authorities and IMF staff held productive meetings to further advance the technical work towards an IMF-supported program,” the IMF mission team said.

“In particular, progress was made in identifying policy options to develop the domestic capital market, mobilize domestic revenue, and strengthen Argentina’s external resilience.”

Argentina, which has been hit by debt and currency crises in recent years, has been locked in talks with the IMF over a new deal to replace a 2018 agreement that failed to head off economic crisis in the country.

“We have been making important steps towards the normalization of the macroeconomic situation,” Guzman said in a text to Reuters.

“Today, the balance of payments’ pressures have to do with the record loan from the IMF, and reaching a deal to roll-it-over would enhance Argentina’s external resilience,” he said.

Guzman met with IMF officials and Fund head Kristalina Georgieva in Italy where he had traveled for a G20 finance ministers meeting.

“The meetings of the technical teams brought progress and understandings on key issues of the government’s economic program,” Argentina’s Economy Ministry said in a statement.

“In particular, concrete advances were made in understandings regarding policies for the development of the domestic capital market, tax administration, and the development of foreign exchange generating sectors.”

Both sides had initially hoped to strike a new deal earlier this year, though are now aiming for an agreement before the end of March 2022 after mid-term elections in Argentina in late 2021.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann and Susan Heavey in Washington, and Hugh Bronstein and Eliana Raszewski in Buenos Aires; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Chris Reese)