Massa schedules Washington trip to close deal with IMF

The Economy minister will travel in mid-June amidst optimism regarding an anticipated disbursement

Economy minister Sergio Massa will travel to the US this month to seal the deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While a large delegation of officials is in China looking for funds to strengthen the Central Bank reserves, Chief Advisor Leonardo Madcur and Secretary of Economic Programming Gabriel Rubinstein are in Buenos Aires armwrestling with the IMF to recalibrate the terms of the agreement. 

There is optimism within the government about advanced disbursements. The Foreign Ministry complained to the Biden administration about trading obstacles the Argentine products face. “[The minister’s trip to Washington] is scheduled for mid-June, between the 12 and the 20,” Economy ministry sources said when asked when the minister will meet with IMF officials. People close to Massa are certain his visit is meant to close the negotiation and come back with a new agreement.

These sources infer the end of those talks is “very close”. The final stint in the reformulation of the program, which currently seems impossible to keep due to the drought, emerges while a big part of the economic team and top political leaders of the ruling coalition are in China seeking a relief for the reserves that may help ease the pressure on currency exchange rates. Precisely, the Asian giant is the main geopolitical opponent of the US, which in turn is the largest stakeholder and the only one with veto power within the IMF board —another way to put indirect pressure on the White House? 

“We are receiving a lot of support from China in concrete ways, as well as through gestures,” members of the Argentine delegation said. Sources with knowledge of the IMF negotiations are optimistic about the advancement of disbursements. Government officials are convinced the board will agree to advance funds. “No one wants to go through a September revision with everything the Argentine electoral dynamics entails,” they said. 

Doubts remain on whether some of those dollars (and if so, how much) can be used to intervene in the parallel dollar rates if necessary. 

Foreign ministry claim

Obtaining support in front of the IMF is not the only ongoing agenda the Argentine government has with the White House. Between May 29 and 31, the Secretary of International Economic Relations Cecilia Todesca Bocco traveled to Washington to discuss the obstacles the US imposes on importing Argentine products. In the land of the free market, they are blocking Argentina’s exports of biodiesel, honey and industrial products, among others, worth more than US$1.8 billion per year. 

Although the bilateral trade balance is a chronic deficit on the Argentine side, the red figures could be lower. Under the pretext of commercial research, obstacles in accessing the US market in recent years affected close to 30% of local exports.   

Todesca Bocco talked about this and other matters with the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets, Arun Venkataraman, and the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Western Hemisphere, Daniel Watson, among others. A positive precedent took place last March, when the Foreign Ministry’s negotiations managed to suspend an investigation on concentrated white grape juice and preserve the entry of that Argentine product to the US market.

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