Monday, 16 September, 2019

Argentina imposes currency controls to support economy

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Russell Knight | 02 September, 2019, 20:37

It means companies will need permission to access the foreign exchange market to purchase foreign currency and make transfers overseas.

The Central Bank of Argentina has been selling off billions of dollars of reserves in an effort to halt a dramatic slide in the peso's value since Alberto Fernandez's success in pre-election primaries last month.

In just a few days, the central bank of Argentina has already used almost $1 billion in its reserves in its attempt to help to maintain the peso.

Last month, the Argentine peso tanked over 30% relative to United States dollars, as the country's president Mauricio Macri lost a primary election.

Argentina's government and central bank are desperately trying to stabilize the economy after the results of the August 11 primary election sent bonds, stocks and the peso into a tailspin.

The Argentine government authorized the central bank on Sunday to restrict purchases of USA dollars as it burns through its reserves in an effort to prop up the peso currency. They will not be permitted to stockpile dollars, the bank said.

This decision comes at a time when the October 27 presidential election is fast approaching. "There were restrictions before, but there are none now", said a source familiar with the new central bank measure.

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Treasury Minister Hernan Lacunza called the measures "uncomfortable" in an interview with a local TV station on Sunday evening, but said they were necessary for avoiding a worse situation.

It was at a level of 52 pesos to the dollar on Monday after the decree was announced.

"If we do not do it, the consequences would be serious". Companies will also be not allowed to accumulate USA dollars.

Argentina's central bank is now center-stage in the country's deepening economic crisis.

The policy is now under intense scrutiny from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which can exert significant influence as it has a $57bn standby agreement with the government to prop up Argentina's struggling economy.

"The Government of Argentina on Sunday 1 September announced certain currency controls aimed at reducing market volatility and containing the impact of fluctuations of financial flows on the real economy as well as, inter alia, at assuring the normal working of the economy", the AIM-listed company said.

He had lifted numerous protectionist practices of his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

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