Argentina’s new economy chief wins IMF praise

FILE PHOTO: Argentina's new Economy Minister Sergio Massa talks to the media after being sworn in, at the Economy Ministry in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 3, 2022. REUTERS/Matias Baglietto

BUENOS AIRES: Argentine Economy Minister Sergio Massa capped a week-long marathon trip to the United States, aimed at securing an International Monetary Fund (IMF) review of Argentina’s US$44bil (RM198.3bil) programme with the Washington-based lender and earning the praise of its managing director Kristalina Georgieva in the process.

According to a statement on Monday, Georgieva congratulated Massa, who took over six weeks ago, for the “strong steps” he’s taken to stabilise the economy and “his clear intention to mobilise external support.”

She added that staff from the IMF intended to conclude a review of its programme with Argentina “in the coming days” and that no targets would be changed.

Georgieva’s comments go beyond the usual rhetoric Argentine officials get in Washington, a reflection of how Massa, a seasoned political operator, has flexed the political muscle his predecessors lacked.

Massa spent a week meeting with executives from Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp, Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, among several others.

Last week, the Inter-American Development Bank proposed boosting its financing for Argentina as its leadership also applauded Massa.

Massa briefly met with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her staff on Monday for a high-level meeting that previous economic ministers from Argentina didn’t get so soon into the job.

“I’m satisfied with the results,” Massa said. “But I understand it’s just a step.

“Argentina’s situation is fragile because we have a big fight against inflation and we have sectors of the country suffering a lot, so we have a huge job ahead of us.”

Yellen urged Massa to implement the necessary reforms to rebuild the country’s credibility, stabilise markets and set the stage for sustainable growth, according to a Treasury official who asked not to be identified. — Bloomberg

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