April 2 (EIRNS)–Argentine ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, has met with high level Chinese government officials in Beijing “to ask for that country’s support in the national government’s negotiations with the IMF, seeking an extension of payment terms and reduction in interest rates,” the daily Dangdai reported April 1, citing embassy sources. Dangdai generally reports on Sino-Argentine relations, and touches on China’s relations with other Ibero-American countries to a lesser degree.
The Telam news agency reported that Vaca Narvaja met with the Foreign Ministry’s director of the Latin American and Caribbean Department, Cai Wei, with whom he discussed President Alberto Fernandez’s desire to refinance the $45 billion standby loan contracted by former President Mauricio Macri in 2018. Further citing embassy sources, Dangdai reported that Vaca Narvaja’s meeting included a discussion of the invitation to President Fernandez to make a state visit to China, now scheduled for early May, during which he is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to join the Belt and Road Initiative. A review of the two nations’ bilateral agenda, Dangdai noted, focused on a series of infrastructure investment projects which both governments prioritize and which would be integrated into a joint Five Year Plan. Especially interesting was the discussion on the use of national currencies for trade and investment, including “an evaluation of productive and industrial projects that could be financed in renminbi, a currency which could be used subsequently to meet foreign payments to China.”
It should be noted that the IMF’s 2018 standby loan, which was originally for $57 billion, but whose last tranche Fernandez refused to accept after he became President, was granted by then IMF Managing Director Christine “Lady Gaga” Lagarde largely for political reasons to prop up the sagging Macri government and the brutal austerity program he was implementing in hopes he might be able to be reelected. Argentine authorities are in fact conducting a criminal investigation into the fraudulent way the loan was contracted and used–most of it ending up as capital flight and vastly expanding the amount of debt Argentina cannot pay. The loan violated Argentina’s constitutional norms as well as the IMF’s own internal regulations. Macri himself, his two former Central Bank presidents and two former finance ministers, are all under investigation.