| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Argentina in talks with IMF to ease reserves targets amid drought

According to two people familiar with the situation who spoke to Reuters, Argentina’s government is currently in final discussions with IMF representatives to relax foreign exchange reserve objectives for 2023 under the country’s $44 billion program.

The action is being taken as a South American exporter of commodities deals with the worst drought in 60 years, which has decimated soy, corn, and wheat crops, jeopardizing the country’s already precarious foreign exchange reserves.

Discussions include the impact of the drought on 2023 goals for net reserves, said an Argentina economy ministry adviser who asked not to be named because the talks were ongoing.

Talks are now focused on agreeing on exact figures, said one of the sources. An Argentine government source, who asked not to be named because discussions are private, said talks are ongoing but nothing is defined yet.

Officials for the Economy Ministry declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the IMF said that the Fund’s staff and the Argentine authorities are discussing the fourth review of the programme, and it will communicate the outcome of those discussions in due course.

A group of representatives from Argentina’s central bank and Economy Ministry arrived in Washington this week for the fourth review of the extended fund facility program approved in March 2022, after a failed bailout four years earlier.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Sergio Massa met with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meetings in Bengaluru, India.

The talks to change the central bank net reserves targets for this year are pre-emptive, as the country did meet its end-December 2022 net reserves targets, another source added.

The world’s top exporter of soy oil and meal is also facing a rise in import costs of energy and fertilizers due to the war in Ukraine, adding pressure to much-needed dollar reserves.

These discussions follow the nation’s decision in January to begin a debt repurchase program for up to $1 billion of its foreign debt. Nigel Chalk, an official with the IMF, stated earlier this month that Argentina shouldn’t undercut goals for replenishing its “scarce” foreign exchange reserves.

According to estimations by the Buenos Aires-based brokerage firm PPI Inversiones, net reserves currently amount to about $4.4 billion.

Argentina’s net reserves were expected to rise by $5.5 billion at the end of March and $9.8 billion by the end of the year, according to the most recent review.

  • Reuters