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UPDATE 1-Argentine econ minister says no deal with IMF yet to reduce deficit

(Adds additional comments from Guzman, background)

Jan 5 (Reuters) - Argentina and the International Monetary Fund have so far failed to reach an agreement to refinance the roughly $45 billion it owes the fund due to an impasse over how to reduce the country’s budget deficit, Economy Minister Martín Guzmán said on Wednesday.

“The budget path is the point where today there is no agreement,” he said during a meeting with provincial governors in Buenos Aires.

“The difference between what the IMF proposes and what we propose from the Argentine government consists in differentiating between a program that, with high probability, would halt the economic recovery that Argentina is having (...) versus having a program that would give continuity to this strong recovery that Argentina is having,” he added.

The country, which in 2020 registered a primary deficit of 6.5% of GDP due to a sharp increase in spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to lower it to 3.3% in 2022, after the economy started a recovery process with expected GDP growth of around 10% in 2021.

Guzmán, who leads the Argentine team renegotiating the IMF loan signed by the government of former President Mauricio Macri in 2018, said that the main condition for maintaining the recovery is managing the debt load the country has with the organization, with strong maturities in 2022, 2023 and 2024. (Additional reporting by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Christian Plumb)

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