IMF Trade / Argentina / ECB / Ukraine

The IMF welcomed report that the US and China may be on the verge of a trade deal and supports ratcheting down of the tension between the Washington and Beijing, spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters Thursday (December 12) in Washington.

“We of course are encouraging of progress.  We are hopeful that there will be progress.  We have been urging resolution and we would welcome any steps to deescalate the trade tensions and roll back recent trade measures and particularly if they can provide a comprehensive and lasting agreement,” Rice told reporters. 

He noted that no deal had yet been formally laid out or agreed upon but added that the IMF Managing Director has been urging both sides toward a permanent solution to their differences.

“Kristalina Georgieva has been using the phrase we need to move from trade truce to trade peace to something that’s — something that’s not just interim but to move to something that’s lasting,” he said.

Rice also was asked about IMF relations with the new government in Buenos Aires following the inauguration of President Alberto Fernandez earlier in the week.

There has been a dialogue with the Argentine authorities and, you know, what I’d say, it’s been very focused on the future, a better future for Argentina, a better future for the Argentine people.  We share that objective,” Rice said.

Argentina is the recipient of the largest loan ever distributed by the IMF, and the incoming administration has been critical of that program during the election campaign. 

“The Argentine authorities have talked about the dialogue being constructive — is the word that has been used — and we again agree on that point and again, we stand ready for further exchanges,” Rice said, noting that the Fernandez team has not yet given specifics about how it would like the relationship to evolve.

Former IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde held her first news conference since taking over at the ECB following their announcement that they will hold rates steady.

The IMF staff firmly supports maintaining strong monetary accommodation until the ECB’s medium-term inflation objective is met.  So, I think characterizes as firmly supportive of the ECB decision today,” Rice said

Finally, Rice gave a read-out from last weekend’s phone call between the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and IMF chief Georgieva. He said that Ukraine had passed an important benchmark in reform measures after staff level agreement completed on the so-called first review of the roughly $5.5 billion dollar IMF program.

The goals of that program are clear, to maintain macroeconomic stability, lift the economy to a higher level of more sustainable, more inclusive growth.  Its effectiveness of course will be dependent on the implementation of the set of prior actions.

A full copy of the transcript from this briefing may be found at IMF.org.

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