Argentina’s Milei to Meet With Biden team, IMF in Washington

Argentine President-elect Javier Milei speaks to supporters after winning the presidential election runoff on Nov. 19. (Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg News/TNS) — Argentine President-elect Javier Milei arrived in the U.S. on Monday for a trip to New York and Washington that will include meetings with the International Monetary Fund and Biden administration officials as he looks to shore up support for the nation’s crisis-torn economy.

Milei will meet with President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan and U.S. Treasury officials. Accompanied by campaign manager Nicolas Posse and economic adviser Luis Caputo, he’ll also speak with IMF staff as Argentina needs to reset its $43 billion loan agreement that’s gone off track under the current government.

The purpose of the meetings is to explain the incoming administration’s economic plan including the fiscal adjustment, reforms and deregulation, according to a Milei spokesperson.

Milei says he’ll enact “shock therapy” on Argentina’s economy once he takes office, which will include sharp spending cuts and attempts to privatize some state-run companies in a bid to avoid hyperinflation. Inflation is running at more than 140% annually.

Milei, 53, won Argentina’s election a week ago on a promise to take radical action to fix South America’s second-biggest economy. During his campaign, Milei proposed the country ditch its currency in favor of the U.S. dollar and close the central bank, though since winning he’s distanced himself from his dollarization guru while tapping Caputo, a Wall Street veteran, to lead the economic transition team.

One strategic concern for the U.S. during the outgoing government of Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has been the potential influence of China, which has loaned billions of dollars to pay off a chunk of Argentina’s debt to the IMF. That had never happened before in the fund’s eight-decade history.

Milei has pledged to focus his foreign policy on deepening diplomatic ties with the U.S. and Israel, while he repeatedly said he would cool relations with China, but would still allow bilateral trade. Milei’s foreign policy adviser, Diana Mondino, has also walked back some of Milei’s harshest rhetoric on China and Brazil.

On Monday morning Milei made a pilgrimage to the Queens cemetery where the Lubavitcher Rebbe is buried, part of a “spiritual” trip to give thanks for his victory. On Friday, he received a blessing from another rabbi in Argentina.

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