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UPDATE 1-IMF, Argentina make 'good progress' on new program -Fund officials

(Adds details, earlier comments from minister Guzman)

NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) - “Good progress” has been made in parts of a new program between the International Monetary Fund and Argentina, IMF officials said in a statement on Friday.

An IMF team visited Argentina to begin discussions on repackaging some $45 billion the South American country owes the Fund.

“Good progress has been made in defining the initial elements of such a program, and further discussions are expected to continue virtually between the teams over the coming weeks,” Julie Kozack, deputy director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department, and Luis Cubeddu, mission chief for Argentina, said in a statement.

Argentina is on track for a 12% economic contraction this year partly due to measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Dwindling FX reserves have dragged its currency 25% lower versus the dollar so far this year, but in the black market it reaches just half its official value.

The IMF team “welcomed the authorities’ intention to request an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement, and to underpin it with a broad political and social consensus,” said the officials.

The EFF is a longer-term program that typically requires more economic reforms than a standby agreement, which was Argentina’s previous.

Earlier on Friday, Finance Minister Martin Guzman asked other members of the Group of 20 for their backing in Argentina’s IMF negotiations.

He said under a new program Argentina will have to ensure it has “macroeconomic policies to account for the reality the country is facing” that include ways to address “social imbalances.” (Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Aislinn Laing; editing by Diane Craft and Grant McCool)

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