Mexico has met the first round of tough policy conditions laid down by the International Monetary Fund in January, clearing the way for it to receive the next installments of a three-year IMF loan and a medium-term commercial bank loan, Mexican officials told international bankers yesterday.
The IMF telexed Mexico on Monday to confirm that the nation is in compliance with its policy targets for the first three months of this year, said William R. Rhodes of Citibank, co-chairman and principal spokesman of the group of major banks that has negotiated with Mexico. Rhodes said that Mexican officials in turn sent telexes yesterday to the commercial banks that have lent it money, telling them of the clean bill of health from the IMF.
The IMF Board must formally approve the staff review of Mexico's performance before the nation can draw the next installment of its $3.7 billion IMF loan. The board is due to meet next Monday, and is virtually certain to approve the release of another $325 million for Mexico, sources said.
Once that happens, Mexico will become eligible for the next $1.1 billion slice of a $5 billion medium-term loan from commercial bankers that was negotiated earlier this year, Rhodes said.
International bankers should be cheered by the confirmation that Mexico's economic and financial program is on track, sources said. There has been a lot of pessimism in financial markets about whether the nation would succeed in hitting its IMF targets, particularly since oil prices declined sharply, threatening Mexico's export earnings. Some bankers still say they expect Mexico to need more money later this year, but officials in Washington and Mexico City deny this. Rhodes said "based on progress to date, the funds that the Mexicans have should carry them through the year."
He pointed out that the first quarter success for Mexico was the first under any of the agreements among debtor nations, commercial banks and the IMF that have been negotiated since the Third World debt crisis last summer. With Brazil, the other very big borrower, now having serious difficulties with its financial package, the good news on Mexico will be even more welcome, Washington sources said. Argentina, the third largest Third World debtor, is reportedly also in compliance with its IMF targets at present, sources say. However, Argentina has not yet completed negotiations with commercial banks over a $1.5 billion medium-term loan.
Lower interest rates have helped offset the effect of the oil price drop on Mexico's balance of payments. Also, the nation has experienced a surge in tourism while a recession at home has cut import demands.