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Argentina's sovereign debt restructuring
lunes 6 de Diciembre de 2010

Gov't expects Obama's help on IMF, Paris Club deals

By Carlos Burgueño

President Cristina de Kirchner kept her word and didn't turn the 20th Ibero-American Summit into an anti-American meeting following the WikiLeaks scandal. Last Thursday, the Argentine Head of State had given US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the floor on this matter during a phone conversation. Fernández de Kirchner had even mentioned the American official about the Argentine impossibility of preventing Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Cuban and Venezuelan representatives from making reference to the WikiLeaks scandal. (The above-mentioned foreign officials eventually blasted the American government during their participation in the Ibero-American Summit).

Now the Argentine government seeks U.S. help in order to reach an agreement with the Paris Club and avoid direct sanctions to be imposed by the International Monetary Fund regarding Argentina's reluctance to comply with the Article IV consultations.

Not a single Cabinet member was able to confirm if both subjects were part of the phone conversation held by Cristina Fernández and Hillary Clinton. However, at least two government officials assured the Obama administration will help Argentina on these issues.

Even though it is not conclusive, Obama's mediation is essential. A favourable opinion from the US can influence Argentina's position before both organizations.

In relation to the Paris Club, Obama's administration might be the first government to accept the Argentine proposal comprising a long-term payment plan with minimum late fees and punitive interest, which also includes a symbolic monitoring from the International Monetary Fund, based on a technical assistance to the INDEC National Statistics Bureau. Then, the American government could exert pressure on Japan and Germany so the major creditor nations eventually reach an agreement with Argentina. Considering this scenario, Holland and Italy would be prone to sign an accord, according to official sources. Spain is expected to accept any proposal to be made by the administration of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Regarding the International Monetary Fund, the American pressure could be even more specific and effective. The United States is the most powerful IMFAs a matter of fact, if the International Monetary Fund decided to impose sanctions on Argentine next April 16, Obama's administration should support this measure. If it didn't, the intergovernmental organization led by Dominique Strauss-Kahn could only issue a warning. member and its dominant position in the IMF Board of Directors is decisive for third countries.

Without the American support, Strauss-Kahn and Nicolás Eyzaguirre, Western Hemisphere Director at the IMF, could not promote any eventual modification regarding the Argentine representation at the IMF Board of Directors.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund officially confirmed the technical mission to Argentina doesn't comprise Article IV consultations. Only Venezuela and Somalia currently experience the same scenario.

Translated by Jimena Gibert