BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -Argentina has signed a deal to renew its currency swap line with China and double the amount it can access to near $10 billion, the South American country’s central bank said in a statement on Friday, a boost to its dwindling foreign currency reserves.
The bank said that the two countries had agreed to renew the total 130 billion yuan ($18.4 billion) swap line for three more years, and eventually double the freely accessible part of the swap from 35 billion yuan to 70 billion yuan ($9.9 billion).
“The procedure has begun to increase the usable amount by another 35 billion yuan,” Argentina’s central bank said following a meeting between officials in Beijing.
“This increase will come into effect once the first tranche of the extension used for commercial exchange between the two countries is exhausted and with the agreement of the parties.”
The country’s foreign currency reserves have fallen sharply this year due to a historic drought that slashed grains exports, the main source of dollar revenue, and the peso currency has weakened under the weight of 109% annual inflation.
Argentina’s Ministry of Economy said that the swap would be in a single tranche and would be freely available for any type of financial operation, adding that the country would look to promote more yuan spot and future operations.
Argentina’s Economy Minister Sergio Massa and central bank chief Miguel Pesce traveled to China this week, meeting there with various officials to discuss financing, investments in lithium and energy sectors, as well as agricultural trade.
China’s central bank said in a statement that bank governor Yi Gang had met with Massa and Pesce to discuss the economic and financial situation and the promotion of financial cooperation, without giving further details.
Ahead of general elections in October, Argentina’s government is trying to rebuild reserves to make debt payments, cover trade costs, and meet economic targets under a $44 billion loan program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
($1 = 7.0820 Chinese yuan renminbi)
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