The government opened talks Wednesday with a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), seeking relief from what President Alberto Fernández says is an unsustainable foreign debt.
The delegation, led by Julie Kozack and Luis Cubeddu, arrived in Buenos Aires for a week-long visit as unions, social organisations and left-wing groups staged public protests to demand a suspension of debt payments.
The government hopes to renegotiate US$195 billion of its US$311 billion foreign debt, including a deeply unpopular US$44-billion bailout loan from the Washington-based lender in 2018.
Argentina's crisis was sparked by a sudden crash in the pesos's value more than 18 months ago, a fall that continued last year.
The country became a market pariah after defaulting in 2001 on US$100 billion in debt, something the Peronist Fernandez wants to avoid repeating.
The aim of the IMF mission to Latin America's third-biggest economy is to "continue the ongoing dialogue regarding the Argentine government's economic programme and the country's economic perspectives," an IMF spokesperson in Washington told AFP. "The mission will also be an opportunity to learn more about the authorities' strategy to approach Argentina's debt situation."
Fernández insists Argentina cannot meet debt payments without economic growth, but the country's inflation rate is more than 50 percent – one of the world's highest – and there is mounting poverty and joblessness.
Both sides, the IMF and the government, have spoken positively about their exchanges.
"The change in leadership at the IMF has been refreshing in a certain way. Even though there is not yet a way forward, there is a growing mutual understanding," Guzman said before Congress, alluding to new IMF head Kristalina Georgieva.
"The IMF is showing a willingness because it wants to get paid and also in part because it contributed to this situation," economist Héctor Rubini from Salvador University told AFP, referring to the original bailout loan agreed with former president Mauricio Macri for a record US$57 billion.