IMF MD Christine Lagarde. Picture: REUTERS
IMF MD Christine Lagarde. Picture: REUTERS

Washington — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Friday that it hoped to "rapidly conclude" a new round of talks with Argentina, set to open next week in Washington, with a view to accelerating the release of funds for the crisis-wracked economy.

"IMF MD Christine Lagarde, IMF staff and [Argentina’s] finance minister Nicolás Dujovne, and his team are scheduled to meet on Tuesday next week to advance the dialogue," IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said in a statement. "Our goal is to rapidly conclude these talks and submit the revised economic plan to the executive board."

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri and IMF’s Lagarde agreed on Wednesday to speed up payments of a $50bn IMF loan to counter heightened volatility in the battered economy. The IMF approved the three-year standby loan in June. A first $15bn tranche has already been released.

The country’s central bank hiked interest rates from 45% to 60% on Thursday in a desperate bid to stabilise a currency in free fall since Macri requested the acceleration of IMF-agreed funding.

However, the rate move did not stop the fall with the peso ending the day down 13.5%. Argentina’s currency has lost more than 50% of its value against the dollar since the start of 2018 as investor confidence in the South American giant has plummeted.

AFP