Argentina in no rush to sign an agreement with IMF, says minister Guzmán

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Argentine Economy Minister Martin Guzman

ARGENTINA, Buenos Aires (MercoPress) — Argentine economy minister Martin Guzman played down the chances of an early agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to repay a US$ 44 billion loan, the Financial Times reported.

Guzman told the newspaper that the government is in no hurry for a new program, and can maintain a stable currency, according to the newspaper. He said there was no need for his country to look for more assistance from China.

Argentina wants to move “at a solid pace but requires common understanding and legitimacy,” the FT cited Guzman as saying. A deal by March or April “would certainly be acceptable,” he told the paper.

Defaulting on the IMF debt “would have an immense cost“ and turn Argentina into a “pariah,“ Guzman told Argentine newspaper Pagina 12 in a separate interview.

The minister said a devaluation wasn’t on the cards, though he accepted that the difference between Argentina’s official and parallel exchange rates was a problem, according to the FT. Calls for a peso devaluation are fading as time goes by, he said.

Argentina can maintain its current foreign exchange policy since it doesn’t have to make debt payments to private creditors next year, he told Pagina 12. The government plans to grow its dollar reserves in 2021, he said.

Asked about the IMF seeking structural economic reforms, Guzman didn’t give a concrete answer but said the government would “defend the interests of the Argentine people.“

Guzman said he “totally“ supports Argentina’s wealth tax bill in the Pagina 12 interview, saying it’s “an extraordinary measure for an extraordinary moment.“ He also anticipated that wages and social security will climb faster than inflation next year, according to the Argentine daily.

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