Updated 05:40 PM EST, Tue, Nov 24, 2020

Argentina to Pay Off $202M Gas Debt to Bolivia 

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Argentina is set to pay off their gas debt to Bolivia in the first three months of the year. According to Fox News, their debt has fallen to $202 million, and Guillermo Acha, CEO of the state-owned oil company YPFB, has confirmed that "Enarsa (state-owned oil company Energia Argentina) will be honoring its debt by March, the $202 million left as the balance."

Argentina made a deposit on Tuesday to complete their payment of $100 million, allowing the $300 million debt calculated in December to be reduced by a third. Energy and Mines Minister Juan Jose Aranguren and Enarsa CEO Hugo Balboa have already expressed their "total interest in continuing to work in the closest and most coordinated manner, operationally and commercially."

Bolivia sells about 16 million cubic meters of natural gas to Argentina everyday, despite the fact that the latter sits on top of some of the largest untapped shale oil and gas resources in the world.

Argentina's debt started in 2002 when a crisis threw millions of Argentines into poverty. However, they were helped by the generous spending for welfare from the government, led by leftist President Cristina Fernandez. Unfortunately, her interventionists policies failed, taking a toll on the country with its wide deficits, low reserves, and high inflation.

Reports then came that her government has been unable to pay Bolivia for the natural gas imports since July. The government has since struggled to rack up the peso currency as well as its foreign exchange reserves.

An article from Reuters noted that the country has swapped $16 billion in non-negotiable notes held by the central bank in order to bolster their currency reserves and strengthen its hold against creditors suing over the defaulted debt.

The central bank is also in talks with investment banks about a financing deal to shore up foreign exchange reserves. An economist with OGF said about this move, "The notes had to be transferred into bonds before they could be sold as a way of increasing central bank reserves. The central bank could also try to use them as collateral for a loan, at least in the local market and perhaps with the international investment banks."

Bolivia is not the only problem for the South American country, either. A separate article from Reuters noted that President Mauricio Macri, who was only sworn to office on December 10, also had to deal with an $80 million debt that the country owes to Paraguay, this time for electricity imports.

Do you think Argentina will be able to pay off all their debts, or will they follow in the footsteps of Greece's collapse later on?

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