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Argentine President says Debt Talks Slower than Expected

By on January 22, 2016

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentine President Mauricio Macri said Friday that talks to reach a fair agreement with holders of the country’s unpaid bond debt may be slower than anticipated.

Macri said that “there are no concrete results” so far in efforts since he took office last month. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he said he’d expected more progress.

Macri confirmed Argentina will make a proposal to the creditors involved in its 2001 default on Feb. 1. The state-run news agency Telam says the presentation was postponed from Jan. 25 at the request of the holdout creditors.

Argentina is renegotiating about $10 billion of unpaid debt owed to US hedge funds, which sued the country in New York court to receive payment in full.

A solution with the holdout creditors would allow Argentina to return to the voluntary debt market, said Juan Luis Bour, a Buenos Aires-based economist.

Argentina has a growing fiscal deficit and needs to tap external sources to finance it, Bour said. Without access to foreign sources of funding, Argentina would have to fund the fiscal deficit through monetary expansion, spurring inflation.

Last week, Argentina’s Finance Minister Alfonso de Prat-Gay said fighting inflation is the government’s next goal. Argentina aims to lower annual inflation to 25 percent this year, from about 30 percent, according to private estimates.

The government said it will adopt a gradual approach and lower inflation to around 5 percent at the last year of Mauricio Macri’s four year-term. The inflation targets were announced Jan 14.

Macri assumed office on Dec. 10 on a market-friendly platform.

On Thursday, the US gave a clear sign that it supports the country’s pro-market policies announcing in Davos it would remove opposition to multilateral bank lending to Argentina.

By The Associated Press

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