Argentina’s new economy boss meets senior finance officials in Washington

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen at the IMF’s headquarters during the IMF-World Bank annual meeting in Washington, the United States, October 14, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

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BUENOS AIRES, July 25 (Reuters) – Argentina’s new economy minister held a series of high-level finance meetings with international lenders and US officials in Washington on Monday, at a time of escalating financial pressures in the crisis-prone South American country.

Argentina’s economy is suffering from runaway inflation and a widening fiscal deficit, on top of a battered peso-currency, which weakened to record lows against the US dollar last week as individuals and businesses cling to tight greenbacks.

Economy Minister Silvina Batakis met Monday with the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with whom Argentina has an outstanding $44 billion debt deal, a meeting both sides later described as productive in posts on Twitter.

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In her post, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva praised Batakis’ “initial efforts” to strengthen Argentina’s fiscal sustainability, comments that were likely taken as a vote of confidence during the minister’s first month in office.

Batakis took over after her predecessor abruptly resigned, forcing President Alberto Fernandez to act quickly to calm already strained markets.

A new $200 million loan to Argentine small and medium-sized businesses was announced at a meeting with senior World Bank officials, also held on Monday, according to a World Bank statement.

World Bank operations director Axel van Trotsenburg said in the statement that the bank provided record financing to the country, including $2.1 billion last year, while expecting to provide a similar amount in 2022 and 2023 to provide.

In a statement of its own, Argentina’s economy ministry commended IMF officials for showing an interest in getting “first-hand” information about the country’s economy and its “economic and social challenges.”

Batakis began her day-long Washington tour with meetings at the US Treasury Department, including with David Lipton, a top aide to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The ministry noted that officials “listened carefully” to Batakis’ presentation.

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Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; writing from Kylie Madry; Edited by Leslie Adler and David Alire Garcia

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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