Macron supports Argentina's debt restructuring: "France is by its side"

The French president held a meeting in Paris with Alberto Fernandez on the issue of the debt with the IMF, which amounts to some 44 billion dollars and is due to start being paid this year
El presidente francés Emmanuel Macron mira al presidente de Argentina Alberto Fernández dando una declaración después de su reunión, en el Palacio del Elíseo, en París, el 12 de mayo de 2021 AFP/LUDOVIC MARIN

AFP/LUDOVIC MARIN  -   French President Emmanuel Macron looks at Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez giving a statement after their meeting, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, 12 May 2021

The international tour carried out by the Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, with the aim of gaining support among the various European leaders, has reached France. After having already met in Portugal, with Prime Minister António Costa, and in Spain, with President Pedro Sánchez, he has added a third day to his route, where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

During his visit to France, the two heads of state shared their views on the problem of the debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Argentina's commitments to the Paris Club. "We want Argentina to reach an agreement with the IMF on a programme to restore its macroeconomic stability. I know what efforts you are making, Mr President. France is at your side," Macron said in a joint statement with Fernández at the Elysée Palace in Paris.

The French president publicly thanked France for its support. "I thank you for your support in the negotiations with the Paris Club and the IMF. It is gratifying that France recognises our efforts and that we can count on its full support," he said on the social network Twitter. 

In recent years, Argentina has been plunged into a complex economic situation due to the nation's high debt, valued at 335.582 billion dollars in December 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Finance. Faced with this situation, the government of the South American country is trying to carry out a renegotiation process with creditors. 

El presidente francés Emmanuel Macron y su esposa Brigitte Macron reciben al presidente de Argentina Alberto Fernández y a su pareja Fabiola Yáñez antes de una reunión en el Palacio del Elíseo en París, Francia 12 de mayo de 2021 REUTERS/GONZALO FUENTES
REUTERS/GONZALO FUENTES-French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron welcome Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez and his partner Fabiola Yanez before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France 12 May 2021.
Debt to the IMF 

During Mauricio Macri's term in office, Argentina took on a debt with the International Monetary Fund estimated at 45 billion dollars and that of the Paris Club at around 2 billion. For this, it relied on the development of an action plan to tackle investment and deal with the economic problems arising from the devaluation of the Argentine peso as a result of the difficulties presented by the export of soybeans in the face of a long period of drought.

The South American country defaulted in May last year for the second time in two decades on its debt interest payments, but managed to restructure its payments. 

Argentina must now begin to pay the money received from the IMF, but President Alberto Fernández acknowledged the heavy burden this places on the country's economy: "The issue is not not not paying, but that we can obtain an agreement that allows us to sustain the economic plan we have, of development and growth, without forgetting the 40% of the population that is below the poverty line", he told the C5N channel in March.

In its negotiations, Fernández's government aims to agree on payment facilities for the next 10 years, conditional on a four-year grace period that will allow the country to recover. For its part, the IMF defends the current agreement established under the 'stand by' modality, according to which the Argentine nation will have to pay 3.5 billion dollars in 2021, another 18 billion in 2022, and 19 billion in 2023.

El presidente francés, Emmanuel Macron, abraza al presidente de Argentina, Alberto Fernández, antes de una reunión en el Palacio del Elíseo en París, Francia, el 12 de mayo de 2021 REUTERS/GONZALO FUENTES
REUTERS/GONZALO FUENTES-French President Emmanuel Macron hugs Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 12 May 2021.
The tour continues in Europe

The Argentine President, together with the Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, will continue to try to negotiate the restructuring of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund and will try to postpone the maturities with the Paris Club. 

The European tour will continue in Italy, where the President will meet with Sergio Mattarella, his Italian counterpart, and Mario Draghi, President of the Council of Ministers. In addition, this Thursday he is scheduled for a private audience with Pope Francis, who will see his compatriot at the Vatican.