Argentina has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, gross domestic product (GDP) contracted annually by 9.9%. Despite considerable policy efforts put in place, the COVID-19 crisis has decreased the income of the most disadvantaged people, increasing poverty by almost ten percentage points and extreme poverty by more than one percentage point, based on latest international comparable estimations. Between March 2020 and May 2021 schools were fully closed for 22 weeks, compared to 26 weeks in LAC and 15 weeks across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Public expenditures on health increased by 0.5 percentage points in the last decade. Some 57.3% of people were satisfied with the public provision of health care in 2020, almost 2.5 percentage points less than in 2009. This figure is higher than the LAC average (48.2%) but lower than the OECD average (70.7%). People’s perceptions of government have improved in the last decade. The share of people who think that the government is corrupt decreased by almost ten percentage points in the last decade, reaching 76.0% in 2020. This result is slightly higher than in LAC (72.4%) and above the OECD (58.8%).

Argentina has taken meaningful actions to support the most affected households, workers and enterprises throughout the crisis. Regarding households, Argentina adopted emergency cash transfers (Ingreso Familiar de Emergencia) to protect informal workers, the self-employed, domestic workers and the unemployed. Furthermore, Argentina granted additional cash transfers to families receiving the Universal Child Allowance, beneficiaries of the Universal Pregnancy Allowance, holders of Family Allowances and self-employed workers earning lower incomes. These measures incorporated a specific gender approach. Moreover, the coverage of existing income transfer programmes, such as: Tarjeta Alimentar, Progresar and Potenciar Trabajo, was extended. For workers, Argentina extended unemployment benefits for those who lost their jobs during the crisis, as well as emergency assistance programmes for workers in the food industry (Programa de Asistencia de Emergencia al Sector Gastronómico), tourism (Programa Promover Turismo Federal y Sostanible) and the health sector, granting exemptions on social security contributions. Last, to support the most affected enterprises, Argentina implemented the Programa de Asistencia de Emergencia al Trabajo y la Producción, which aimed to protect jobs and guarantee production during the COVID-19 crisis.

Going forward, Argentina has established the Programa de Recuperación Productiva 2 to accelerate the economic recovery. It is intended to maintain employment by assigning an individual, fixed amount of money to be paid to workers belonging to the most affected sectors, particularly tourism and culture. Regarding education, the Federal Plan “Juana Manzo” was launched in August 2020, an e-learning platform available to all primary schools and secondary schools across the country.

Argentina’s co-operation initiatives within and beyond the region are focused on immediate responses to the COVID-19 crisis and have medium- and long-term perspectives. Within LAC, Argentina engaged in non-financial co-operation schemes with Mexico to speed up the administrative processes and the production of the vaccine. With Chile, it supported small and medium-sized enterprises in the digitalisation process so they can access the public procurement market. Similarly, with the Southern Common Market, MERCOSUR, it created a network of biomedical research institutes to address health problems. Chile has also been active beyond LAC. Within the framework of the exchange of experiences on vaccination strategies with the United Kingdom, the Argentinian Ministry of Health is holding regular meetings with scientists in Oxford to learn about the progress of production strategies, new variants, reinforcements, and clinical trials in children and adolescents. With the European Union, they created the Economic and Social Council solidarity economy as an advisory forum to help formulate public policies backed by consensus that foster social cohesion and promote gender equality.


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