Economic activity in Argentina slumped 11.5 percent in March compared to the same month in 2019, as the nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic kicked in.
It was the largest decline registered by the INDEC national statistics bureau since 2009, illustrating the impact of the quarantine on economic activity. An even worse collapse is anticipated in April, given that the lockdown only began in mid-March.
INDEC’s data shows that economic activity in the first quarter of 2020 declined by 5.4 percent year-on-year.
The sectors that were hardest hit were fishing (minus 48.6 percent), construction (minus 46.5 percent) and hotels and restaurants (minus 30.8 percent). The only area that registered growth was electricity, gas and water services (up 6.7 percent).
President Alberto Fernández ordered a compulsory nationwide lockdown on March 20 to tackle Covid-19. That has since been extended, though restrictions have been eased in some provinces. Stricter conditions remain in place in Buenos Aires City and its surroundings, where the majority of the population is concentrated and more than 70 percent of all Covid-19 cases have been recorded.
Argentina has been in recession since mid-2018. The economy contracted by 2.6% in that year and 2.2 percent in 2019. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that GDP will contract this year by 5.7 percent.
The government is currently attempting to restructure more than US$65 billion in debt.