© Reuters. Argentina’s Economy Minister Martin Guzman poses for a picture before an interview with Reuters at the Economy Ministry, in Buenos Aires

By Eliana Raszewski

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s gross domestic product will grow at least 7% this year, Economy Minister Martin Guzman said on Tuesday, signaling a faster than previously expected recovery after three years of recession exacerbated last year by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new economic growth estimate is above the 5.5% foreseen in the government’s budget. Latin America’s No. 3 economy shrank 10% in 2020, weighed down by a lockdown against the coronavirus and uncertainty over the policies of left-leaning Peronist President Alberto Fernandez, who took office at the end of 2019.

“We expect growth of gross domestic product of 7% for 2021. We expect that as a base. Along with this we are beginning to see a recovery in employment, and a strengthening of public accounts,” said Guzmán in a videoconference with 18 foreign investment funds.

Fernandez, who led the videoconference from his residence in Buenos Aires, urged investors to bet on the country, especially in areas such as energy, in lithium mining and in agro-industrial production.

“I would like to encourage you to turn your gaze on Argentina,” Fernandez said, adding that the Belgium-sized Vaca Muerta shale oil play in southern Argentina was particularly ripe for investment.

Regarding agriculture, the president said: “What is lacking are investments to expand local primary production.”

The South American grains powerhouse is already the worlds No. 3 corn exporter and top supplier of soymeal livestock feed, used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.

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