Argentina agreed to start consultations with the International Monetary Fund that could lead to a new financing program, days after the global lender said the country’s debt situation had become “unsustainable”.
Argentine Economy Minister Martin Guzman told IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva that the heavily indebted country would initiate formal consultations with the IMF that could lay the groundwork for a new program, the Argentine government and the IMF said in separate statements.
Guzman and Georgieva met on the sidelines of a meeting of finance officials from the world’s 20 largest economies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this weekend.
“The minister informed the managing director of the government’s intention to initiate Article IV consultations, which the minister called a valuable step that will deepen mutual understanding between the Argentine government and the IMF on the way toward a new programme with the agency,” the government it said.
Article IV talks would allow the IMF to inspect Argentina’s accounts before a new agreement is signed. This would give an assurance to bondholders as they head into restructuring talks that Argentina, notorious for mismanaging its debt, is under IMF supervision. Argentina has defaulted on debt obligations eight times so far and Guzman has said he wanted the upcoming bond revamp to be done in a spirit of cooperation.
Finance officials at the G20 meeting expressed relief that Argentina had agreed to remain engaged with the IMF, saying it lowered the risk of a messy default at a time when the global economy is facing heightened risks due to the fast-spreading coronavirus. Georgieva said she had a “very fruitful exchange of views” with Guzman about putting the country on a path to more sustainable and inclusive growth.
She said the newly elected Argentine government - initially deeply sceptical about continued involvement with the IMF - had agreed to deepen its engagement with the fund through formal consultations as it worked to “secure a sustainable and orderly resolution of Argentina’s debt situation”.
Argentina is facing tough negotiations with creditors and the IMF to restructure around US$ 100 billion in debt that the country’s new Peronist government says that it cannot pay unless given time to revive stalled economic growth.
The IMF, which wrapped up a visit to Argentina earlier this week, has said the country’s debt situation had become “unsustainable” and that private creditors would need to make a “meaningful contribution” to resolve the crisis.
Georgieva, a Bulgarian and the first official from an emerging market economy to head the IMF, commended the efforts of the Argentine government to put in place policies aimed at stabilizing the economy and reducing poverty and dealing with its debt.