Economy, Americas

Argentine president meets with IMF leader

Alberto Fernandez concludes 5-day European tour to gain support from European nations for negotiations with IMF

Bala Chambers   | 15.05.2021
Argentine president meets with IMF leader

LONDON

Argentine president held a face-to-face meeting with the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva in Italy on Friday.  

Alberto Fernandez described the meeting as “constructive and frank,” discussing debt repayment and deadlines at the Sofitel hotel in the capital, Rome. 

After a one-and-a-half-hour meeting, the Argentine leader said he was “optimistic” about reaching an agreement with the IMF. 

"We express our willingness to solve the Argentine debt problem," said Fernandez in reference to finding a solution that does not impact the Argentine people during COVID-19 regarding the debt which his government inherited. 

He described Georgieva as “understanding" regarding the impact of the global pandemic in Latin America and Argentina’s economic recession. 

Fernandez expressed the need for the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to be extended, to which Georgieva is said to have agreed. 

Georgieva described the meeting as "positive" - focusing on "global cooperation" and "expressed solidarity" so that Argentina can "address the deep social and economic challenges facing the country, which have been aggravated by the pandemic". 

Georgieva noted Fernandez’s request for a reform of the IMF’s surcharges policy, and said she will "consult with the membership on this issue". 

Fernandez has pushed to remove surcharges, arguing that it punishes some nations in precarious financial situations, especially during the global pandemic. 

Georgieva insisted "our objective remains helping Argentina build a prosperous economic future for all". 

Economy Minister Martin Guzman met with the deputy director of the IMF's Western Hemisphere Department, Julie Kozack. 

Fernandez's meeting with the IMF leader was the last part of his five-day European tour to gain support from European nations for negotiations with the IMF and the Paris Club.   

Portugal 

On Monday, Fernandez met with his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, describing him as a “role model,” having previously successfully negotiated with the IMF. 

At a joint press conference with his counterpart, Fernandez called for changes to the international financial system in the post-pandemic world. 

Both leaders also discussed a number of issues such as trade and climate change amongst others. 

Spain 

On Tuesday, Fernandez met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, securing support for IMF negotiations and the Paris Club. 

Speaking with Sanchez, Fernandez once again reiterated that the surcharges impact Argentina negatively and agreed with the idea to liberalize COVID-19 vaccine patents. 

Sanchez also disclosed investment plans for the Latin American region.

Fernandez later that day met with King Felipe VI.  

France 

On Wednesday, Fernandez met with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, thanking him publicly for his support in negotiations with the IMF and the Paris Club. 

Local reports said both leaders reached an agreement in principle to suspend the repayment of $2.4 billion to the Paris Club due at the end of the month. 

They also discussed common interests such as climate change, the response to the pandemic and gender equality. 

Both leaders expressed their concern with Amazon rainforest and deforestation, with Fernandez noting a global effort is needed to "end deforestation, take care of green spaces and understand once and for all that the world breathes through forests and jungles.”   

Italy 

On Thursday, Fernandez met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi. 

At Lunch with Mattarella, Fernandez was accompanied by Foreign Minister Felipe Sola; Economy Minister Martin Guzman; and Argentina's Ambassador to Rome Roberto Carles. 

Fernandez later met with Draghi at the Chigi Palace alongside Secretary for Strategic Affairs Gustavo Beliz. 

Fernandez and Beliz also met with World Bank Managing Director of Operations, Axel van Trotsenburg. 

Fernandez also held a private meeting with the Pope, discussing the global pandemic, Argentina’s economic crisis and poverty reduction. 

Due to the coronavirus Fernandez did not fly to Germany during the tour.


-Spiraling economy and impact of COVID-19

Currently Argentina is experiencing its third year of recession, as inflation sits close 40% coupled with double-digit unemployment.

While calling for a “sustainable” deal to be reached with the IMF, Fernandez has sought to restructure the historic deal with the IMF in 2018.

Argentina wants to postpone the IMF repayments between September and October while it focuses on combating the pandemic in the country.

In September 2018, Argentina received the biggest IMF loan in history - $57 billion.

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