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IMF Argentina / Egypt / Lebanon

Release Date: 21 May 2020

The IMF supports ongoing dialog between Argentina and its creditors as that country deals with its debt burden, spokesman Gerry Rice said in a virtual news briefing Thursday in Washington, DC.

“The Argentine authorities are in active negotiations with private bondholders to restructure the country's sovereign debt. As we have said before, and in line with our longstanding practice for all countries, not just Argentina - these negotiations are a bilateral matter for Argentina and its creditors and do not involve the IMF directly in that process,” Rice said.

Argentina is facing potential default as early as Friday according to news reports with private lenders discussing a deal with authorities to reduce or refinance the countries sovereign debt.

“I don't want to speculate here on the outcome of those negotiations between the Argentine authorities and creditors. But what I would say is that we are encouraged by the willingness of both sides to continue discussions to reach an agreement. We continue to hope that an agreement can be found to set the stage for a sustainable path for the Argentine economy going forward.”

Egypt has also secured funding from the IMF to help battle covid-19, Rice said, with more discussion ongoing with authorities.

“Clearly Covid-19, as in many countries in Egypt, has caused significant disruption to the near-term outlook. The government and the Central Bank of Egypt have responded quickly with a comprehensive package aimed at tackling the health emergency and supporting economic activity. And to support these efforts, the authorities requested financial assistance from the IMF under that rapid financing instrument. The RFI, as well as a more traditional standby arrangement,” said Rice.

The Executive Board of the IMF approved Egypt’s request for emergency financial assistance of US$ 2.772 billion on May 11 to meet the urgent balance of payments needs stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The RFI – which carries an interest rate of only about 1% - will help alleviate pressing financing needs, including for health, social protection, and supporting the most impacted sectors and vulnerable groups.

Concerning Egypt’s request for a loan under the Stand-By Agreement (SBA), Rice said the IMF is still working with the Egyptian authorities on this request to design strong policies to support a strong economic recovery.

And Lebanon has approached the IMF for help in its current economic crisis, Rice said.

“I would characterize the talks thus far as constructive. The IMF staff has been meeting with the Lebanese authorities, trying to better understand their views and their plans to go forward.”

“As I said before, we would characterize the government's economic plan as a good starting point for these discussions. It diagnoses the many economic issues facing Lebanon and proposes a comprehensive set of policies to address them. So the discussions are ongoing. They are taking place virtually.

For a full transcript of the briefing:

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