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Milei meets US officials, IMF in post-victory Washington visit

Tan KW
Publish date: Wed, 29 Nov 2023, 10:10 AM
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Argentine President-elect Javier Milei met with US officials days ahead of his inauguration as the libertarian looks to shore up support for his plans to fix the crisis-torn economy.

Milei met with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and top officials from the National Security Council and the State Department. As well, economic adviser Luis Caputo and campaign manager Nicolas Posse held discussions with the International Monetary Fund and Treasury Department.

Argentina is preparing to reset its $43 billion loan agreement with the IMF, which has gone off track under the current government. At the same time, Washington is growing increasingly concerned about China’s influence in Argentina, which has tapped funds from Beijing to get it through its most recent economic crisis.

The meetings were organized with the help of US Ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley to help the incoming president explain his economic plan, Milei’s team said in recent days. Also participating in the meetings was Argentine businessman Gerardo Werthein, expected to be Milei’s pick for US ambassador.

“The president-elect expressed his view on the international geopolitical agenda aligned with the West and his defense of the values ​​of freedom,” his team said in a statement on X. NSC’s Sullivan “expressed the willingness of the United States to collaborate in the transition of the incoming Argentine government in the face of the challenging political, economic and social situation that the country is going through.”

The IMF said in a statement that the discussions included “the country’s complex challenges and plans for urgently strengthening stability and setting the basis for more sustainable growth. Both teams will remain closely engaged in the period ahead.”

The White House National Security Council didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Despite the seriousness of the mission, Milei also had time to play tourist, stopping for a selfie at the Lincoln Memorial with his sister and a couple of advisers.

Economic Plans

Milei’s team sees support from the US and IMF as potentially helping smooth his transition to leadership and avoid more political and economic pitfalls when he takes over from President Alberto Fernandez on Dec. 10, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Milei has described his plans for Argentina’s economy as “shock therapy,” including sharp spending cuts and attempts to privatize some state-run companies in a bid to avoid hyperinflation.

During his campaign, Milei proposed that the country ditch its currency in favor of the US dollar and close the central bank, though he’s distanced himself from those plans since winning election. He’s also brought on board Caputo, a Wall Street veteran and former finance and central bank chief, to lead the economic transition team.

Milei has several candidates to lead the central bank, but wants to make sure that his pick can work well with whoever he selects to lead the economy ministry, according to people familiar with the discussions, who asked not to be named without permission to speak publicly.

 


  - Bloomberg

 

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