Argentine President Javier Milei held his first face-to-face meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday.
The IMF has been supportive of the government’s austerity measures and last week reached a staff-level agreement in Buenos Aires that could unlock a US$4.7 billion disbursement for Argentina.
Milei said the meeting went “spectacularly well” in a short interview with the Infobae media outlet, while Georgieva called it “very good” in a post on X.
“We talked about Argentina’s deep economic and social challenges and decisive steps underway to bring down inflation, promote private sector-led growth, and use scarce public money to help the most vulnerable people,” Georgieva posted.
Economy Minister Luis Caputo, Chief of Staff Nicolás Posse, and Argentina’s Ambassador to the United States Gerardo Werthein also attended the meeting, along with the Presidency’s Secretary General Karina Milei, who is also the President’s sister.
Argentina currently faces a US$44 billion debt with the Fund, after former president Mauricio Macri signed a record-high loan with the lender in 2018. The deal was renegotiated in 2022 under President Alberto Fernández’s administration and includes a comprehensive economic program the country must comply with to receive disbursements every three months, which the government uses to pay the previous debt.
However, most of the goals were missed throughout 2023, and the Fund concluded that the program had gone “off track.”
On Tuesday, the Fund’s First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath met with Caputo: an Economy Ministry spokesperson told the Herald that Gopinath “expressed her enthusiasm with the changes that the government is promoting.”
According to the Ministry’s spokesperson, Gopinath also stressed the importance that “politics” accompany the government’s measures, in what could be read as the Fund’s expectation that the Congress supports Milei’s mega-decree and omnibus law. Both pieces of legislation are being discussed, and their approval is not yet guaranteed.
“The measures are going to be harsher if the omnibus bill does not pass,” Caputo warned in a press conference last week. “Argentines will suffer them more.”
Wednesday’s meeting came after Milei gave a controversial speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos, in which he said socialism is a threat to the West, the president spoke for almost half an hour with the lender’s head.
After the meeting, media outlets posted a video showing Georgieva and Gopinath taking a picture alongside Milei doing a thumbs-up — an imitation of the far-right president’s signature pose, which he always accompanies with a duck face. Georgieva and Gopinath’s seals of approval, however, did not extend that far.
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