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Argentina's Fernandez talks up quick IMF deal as Europe tour closes

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By Reuters
Argentina's Fernandez cancels France trip over COVID-19, Delta fears
Argentina's Fernandez cancels France trip over COVID-19, Delta fears   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Hernan Nessi

BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – Argentine President Alberto Fernández said on Friday he wanted to reach a deal with the International Monetary Fund as quickly as possible after a meeting with IMF head Kristalina Georgieva, although he warned it must not hurt the country’s people.

Fernandez, who met with Georgieva in Rome, is wrapping up a European tour during which he has been seeking support for the country in talks over a crucial new IMF deal and to delay debt repayments with the Paris Club group of lenders.

“The aim is to find an agreement as quickly as possible, but we cannot think of an agreement that requires greater efforts from the Argentine people,” Fernández said after the meeting.

“It was a constructive meeting in which I insisted on my proposals that have to do with reducing surcharges, extending deadlines and understanding that the world is experiencing a unique moment that … must be taken into account.”

Argentina is looking to renegotiate some $45 billion in payments to the IMF after a record 2018 deal failed to drag the grains-producing South American nation out of an economic crisis that has deepened since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

The country also has a payment of $2.4 billion to the Paris Club of international lenders falling due this month.

Argentina has formally asked for an extension on the Paris Club payment and news agency Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing sources, that the group was willing to delay the payment under certain conditions.

Stuck in recession since 2018, Argentina is facing stubbornly high inflation that could reach close to 50% this year, while investors, firms and individuals faces tough capital controls put in place to protect dwindling foreign reserves.

(Reporting by Hernán Nessi; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Catherine Evans)