IMF to ‘stand with Argentina’ during economic crisis

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday it will support Argentina during its economic crisis after the recession-hit country asked for help with restructuring its debt.

“Staff will remain in close contact with the authorities in the period ahead and the Fund will continue to stand with Argentina during these challenging times,” IMF Chief Spokesperson Gerry Rice said in a statement.

An IMF staff team returned to Washington on Wednesday after talks with Argentina’s Minister of the Treasury Hernan Lacunza and Central Bank President Guido Sandleris and their teams in the capital Buenos Aires.

The Fund also met with leftist presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez, who beat President Mauricio Macri three weeks ago in party primaries. The country's economy has since witnessed increased instablity.

Macri has pledged to improve conditions for businesses and investors. His administration in recent weeks has faced protests, including from union leaders, over worsening economic conditions.

Latin America’s third-largest economy asked the IMF on Wednesday to help restructure its debt payments on a $56 billion bail-out loan agreed in 2018 as it aims to calm market volatility, Lacunza said on Wednesday. Debt repayments are scheduled to start in 2021.

“Fund staff is in the process of analyzing them and assessing their impact,” Rice said, referring to the debt operation announced by Lacunza.

“Staff understands that the authorities have taken these important steps to address liquidity needs and safeguard reserves,” he added.

With annual inflation running at 54.4 percent in July 2019, Argentina is currently among the top 10 countries with highest inflation rates in the world.

Consumer prices, which rose 2.2 percent in July, are expected to rise to slightly over 3 percent, Macri was quoted as saying by Reuters earlier this week.

“We were going to be at about 1.8 percent inflation. It’s now going to be 3-something in August,” Macri said.

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