Fernandez Kicks Off Europe Trip as Paris Club Debt Payment Nears

Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez arrived in Portugal Sunday, kicking off a five-day trip across Europe as he looks to drum up support to delay a $2.4 billion payment to the Paris Club.

Fernandez will meet with top authorities in Portugal today before moving on to Spain, France and Italy. Economy Minister Martin Guzman, who completed a European trip of his own in the second week of April, will also participate in the trip.

The country has asked the Paris Club to allow it to delay its payment, due at the end of May, until it has reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, and hopes for an answer by May 31, according to a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations. The person, who asked not to be named because talks are private, declined to say what the country’s steps would be if it didn’t receive a favorable response by that day.

Fernandez Kicks Off Europe Trip as Paris Club Debt Payment Nears

The payment comes at a difficult time for Argentina. The country is in its third year of recession, with inflation estimated near 40% and double-digit unemployment. While analyst estimates for net reserves vary, some calculations have put them near zero since September of 2020.

In addition to the Paris Club payment, Argentina faces $4.8 billion in principal and interest payments to the IMF this year.

Meanwhile, the country also is in talks with the IMF for a new program that seeks to delay payments on an existing $45 billion plan. Those talks have stalled.

Here’s Fernandez’s expected agenda:

  • May 9: Meeting with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza
  • May 10: Lunch with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, travel to Spain
  • May 11: Meeting with Spanish King Rey Felipe VI & with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
  • May 12: Meeting businessmen at Argentine Embassy in Paris, then Fernandez will be received by French President Emmanuel Macron; traveling to Italy
  • May 13: Meeting with Pope Francis, then lunch with Italian President Sergio Mattarella & meeting with Mario Draghi
  • May 14: Return to Buenos Aires

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