WASHINGTON.- Despite the fact that the United States reiterated its demand for “a solid economic policy framework that returns growth to the country” in the negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) –a claim that has been heard for months–, the foreign minister santiago cafiero He was very satisfied with the meeting he had with his American counterpart, Antony Blink, and leaves Washington convinced that the political wing of the government of Joe Biden took the message he brought from Buenos Aires.
In the government, they even turned the message of the US government on its head, inferring that the mention of the growth of the economy was an endorsement of the official mantra of “grow to pay”.
“Politics internalized what Argentina is proposing”, affirmed high-ranking sources from the Foreign Ministry after the meeting between Blinken and Foreign Minister Cafiero at the State Department.
“Argentina is ready to sign the agreement –they continued–, but it has to be the agreement that we are proposing. Now is the time of the economic area. Politics has already managed to take the message to the highest level, which was what was missing, and now the negotiators will continue working to see if that common thread threads a resolution for Argentina.
The reading that emerged from the officialism of the meeting with Blinken was much more optimistic than the impact offered by the State Department, in which he once again reiterated a message that the Treasury Department and the White House had already given: to agree with the Fund, Argentina has to present a plan. Cafiero took his message last night to one last interlocutor: John Gonzalez, President Biden’s top adviser for Latin America, at a dinner with US officials and Ambassador Jorge Argüello.
“Strong support from the political wing was achieved,” they celebrated near the chancellor, before that dinner and after the meeting with Blinken. What no one could fully explain was why then the official messages from the Joe Biden government insist, unequivocally, on continuing to call for an economic plan. Foreign Ministry sources even said that the plan had been presented in an “informal” manner, without giving further details.
“We need this not to go to a strictly technocratic analysis”, they affirmed close to the chancellor. “If the credit is political, the solution is political,” they continued, reiterating one of the ruling party’s mantras when talking about the loan granted to the government of Mauricio Macri.
The official optimism for the meeting with Blinken also contrasted with a fact: the possibility of a visit by Alberto Fernández to Washington, which the Government has sought, was not even discussed. And it also collided with the recognition of the open possibility of falling behind in payments with the Fund, “arrears”, in technical jargon, the equivalent of a default with private bondholders. In the Foreign Ministry they do not rule out that scenario. The money to pay the March due date for some 2.8 billion dollars is not there, they acknowledge in the ruling party. The question, they say, is not whether Argentina will pay or not if there is no agreement, but whether the Fund understands Argentina’s position.
Beyond the readings The truth is that Cafiero’s visit to Washington revealed the good will of the Biden government to help Argentina –Cafiero saw Blinken and González, two of his closest collaborators in foreign policy–, and that the Government still has a long way to go to finish threading the support it needs to close the agreement with the Fund. Two years after the talks to reach that agreement began, the demand remains the same from the beginning: that Argentina put on the table a solid and credible plan that encourages growth and investment. In the Government they respond that a credible plan is one that can be paid for, and that they are proposing a different path and want to reach an agreement that will allow convergence towards a zero deficit thanks to growth.