Argentina’s new economy chief confirms plans to increase reserves

President Alberto Fernandez appointed Massa as economy minister several weeks ago, making him the country’s third economic leader in about a month, amid a severe economic recession, fueled by spiraling inflation and growing street protests.

“We are negotiating three (debt) repurchase agreements,” Massa said during a speech at a think tank event in Buenos Aires. He noted that banks from Asia, Europe and the United States are participating in the discussions and have made offers.

“We are suggesting that they pool offers to buy back debt and boost our reserves,” he added, without elaborating.

Massa referred to ongoing talks with top agricultural sector leaders to speed up grain exports, describing it as another attempt to bring more dollars into the central bank’s coffers, but she did not go into details either.

Jorge Argello, the South American country’s ambassador to Washington, said the minister, a former congressional leader from the ruling center-left Peroni alliance, plans to travel to the United States next month to meet with financial leaders at the International Monetary Fund. He previously spoke at the same event sponsored by the Council of the Americas.

The trip in early September will be Massa’s first overseas trip in his capacity as the so-called supreme minister in charge of agricultural, industrial and trade policies.

Argello said Massa would also meet in Washington with officials from the US Treasury, the White House and private banks.

Group meetings with the International Monetary Fund are being held as the organization reviews Argentina’s $44 billion debt deal signed in March on its usual schedule.

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The quarterly review will end in September and will be used to finalize new payments from the international lender.

The Argentine government is doing its best to meet the foreign exchange reserve targets stipulated in the IMF agreement, so that part of the debt can be cancelled. Massa held heated talks with powerful leaders in the agricultural and rural sectors last week in a bid to boost reserves by halting agricultural exports.

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