IDB increases financing to Argentina as foreign reserves dwindle

Argentina and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB.UL) (IDB) agreed on Tuesday to expand financing to the country by $400 million this year, with further talks that could bring total financing to more than $4 billion in 2022 and 2023.

The agreement comes as Argentina seeks to leave behind financial turmoil that has raised the inflation rate to over 90% this year, pushing consumption and economic activity down and moving over 40% of the population into poverty.

After a meeting between Argentine and bank officials, IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone told reporters that the bank and the country have drawn up a plan to unlock “what was stuck,” alluding to recent doubts about financing Argentina.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the IDB said it was increasing two previously announced loans by $200 million each in the coming months, with one of them, now totaling $700 million, to be disbursed this month.

“Together, these loans would enable the IDB to increase support for Argentina from $800 million to $1.2 billion in the final quarter of 2022,” the bank said.

A government source told Reuters that the agreement follows negotiations in Washington between representatives from Argentina’s economy ministry and the IDB, adding that the country urgently needs foreign currency to avoid a depreciation of the peso in the midst of high inflation.

In addition to the $1.2 billion, the IDB said its “financing potential for the rest of 2022 could include additional programs totaling $725 million.”

If approved, those loans would bring the bank’s total 2022 financing to Argentina to $2.37 billion, the IDB said.

Another $1.8 billion in loan programs is in advanced discussions for dispersal in 2023.

“This measure … allows us to show the strength that we want our central bank to have in reserves,” Argentine Economy Minister Sergio Massa said after the meeting with IDB officials.