Argentina and China are in talks to extend their currency exhanges

Argentina’s cabinet chief says continuing the programme would help his nation weather recent financial turmoil

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2018, 4:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2018, 7:25am

Argentina is in talks with China about extending a currency swap programme because of recent financial turmoil, Argentina’s cabinet chief said on Wednesday.

“There are talks … to see if there’s a possibility of extending the swaps in the current situation,” Cabinet Chief Marcos Pena said via webcast from an event he attended in New York.

Argentina says China deals are still a top priority

He said that Argentina’s relationship with China had been “very fruitful”. China’s central bank last year extended a bilateral swap agreement for 70 billion yuan (US$10.37 billion) for another three years.

Argentina’s former president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, first signed a swap agreement with China in 2009 as a means of boosting dwindling reserves that her government relied on to pay for energy imports and to cover debt obligations.

A second agreement was signed in 2014. The previous swaps allowed Argentina to bolster foreign reserves or pay for Chinese imports with yuan.

Reserves have risen to nearly US$50 billion from US$24.9 billion on December 10, 2015, when President Mauricio Macri took office promising to end Argentina’s financial isolation with a range of free-market reforms.

Still, Argentina’s central bank has sold US$10 billion of reserves so far this year trying to stem its weakening peso.

Investors grew sour on Argentina in late April when higher US interest rates abroad caused an exodus from emerging markets. Argentina is negotiating a credit line with the International Monetary Fund to guarantee funding through 2019.

Pena also said that the finance ministry and central bank were working to reduce volatility from one-month Lebac securities.

The central bank last month offered to swap Lebacs for paper of longer duration. The popular high-yielding securities have obliged the bank to take a hard once-a-month blow to its reserves.

“We understand that that is a situation that has some vulnerability that should be reduced,” Pena said.