With a GDP of more than US$475 billion (2012) Argentina is one of the five largest economies in South America. In recent years, President Cristina Fernandez has focused on promoting economic development with social inclusion.
On the international front, Argentina enjoys good relations with most of the countries in the region, particularly Brazil and Venezuela. The country also has a leading role in advocating the region's policy stance, as it represents Latin America at the G-20, jointly with Mexico and Brazil.
Education and health: Argentina has a strong tradition in advancing public education and health. Currently 6 % of the GDP is invested in education and culture, and 9.5 % of the GDP is invested in health services.
Commerce and industry: in recent years, the country has experienced a record growth of its national industry, in particular automobile, textile and power. The main commodities exported are wheat, soy pellets and meal, soybeans, crude oil, gasoline, and meat. The opening up of China's markets has been a boost to support exports.
Environment: 7.7 percent of the territory is under protected areas. There are 36 national parks and 400 provincial natural reserves. In the last 7 years, national protected areas increased by 24 percent and recently new marine reserves have been created. In 2009, the National Administration regulated the Forest Law, which aims to preserve the conservation of native forests. As part of its commitment to the environment, the Matanza-Riachuelo basin, one of the most polluted in South America, is being cleaned.
Economy: Argentina's macroeconomic performance in recent years has been strong. Consecutive years of rapid and pro-poor economic growth enabled poverty and unemployment to be cut to levels experienced prior to the country's 2001-2002 economic crisis. President Cristina Fernández seeks to support economic growth and stability after 8 years of continued GDP increase.
During 2012, Argentina's economy went through various challenges and grew by 1.9%. The slowdown was felt strongly in the first half of the year, then slowly reverse the trend. However, unemployment remained at around 7.2%. This year is expected to grow 3.4%.
Social spending continued as priority. Thanks to the fiscal effort made, there were increases in the amounts of pensions and the Universal Child Allowances, that benefit 3.7 millions of children and teenagers up to 18 years, 9.3 % of total population.
The process of developing the new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) that will run until 2015 has already begun. Currently, active projects are focused on three key areas: sustainable growth with equity; social inclusion and improved governance.
In a nutshell, the portfolio is focused in the following goals:
Upgrade infrastructure to address potential bottlenecks to competitiveness, and underpin medium-term growth and poverty alleviation.
Improve competitiveness, quality, and exports of agriculture and livestock production.
Address a growing problem of natural resource degradation.
Consolidate and expand progress in reducing poverty by increasing household incomes and integrating marginalized groups into the productive marketplace.
Consolidate improvements in health indicators.
Strengthen the effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability of the public sector.
Expand performance management and improve the quality of public expenditure
Enhance service delivery outcomes and trust in institutions.
Argentina currently has a portfolio of 36 projects totaling US$6.464 billion in credits and five important GEF donations of US$29.4 million. The World Bank's involvement includes a wide array of projects in areas such as agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and labor, among others.
The provinces of Catamarca, Chaco, Corrientes, Formosa, Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán and Santiago del Estero, home to 7.5 million, receive the support of the Norte Grande National Development Program, including World Bank financing of US$800 million for a Water Project and a Road Project.
Social safety nets are the focus of a financing of US$480 million for the Basic Protection Project, which aims to increase the effectiveness of Argentina's income transfer programs for the unemployed and families with children, including the Universal Child Allowance.
This initiative complements Plan Nacer, which emphasizes performance based transfers in Argentina's health system, with immediate attention to the health needs of poor mothers and children. Finally, the Essential Public Health Functions project (U$461 million) focuses on seven health programs including chronic diseases, safe blood, HIV and others.
In the City of Buenos Aires, the Bank supports the main hydraulic works, through the Urban Flood Prevention and Drainage Project (US$130 million) that has improved the ability of Arroyo Maldonado drainage system to prevent flooding in several neighborhoods of the city.
The Program to Promote Productive Innovation seeks to improve Argentina's knowledge industry by supporting highly skilled human capital and new knowledge-based enterprises.
Around 70,000 small and medium producers -over one third of the total number- are benefiting from initiatives such as the Second Provincial Agricultural Development Project (PROSAP), which provides US$300 million in assistance to support new public infrastructure and services investment in rural areas.
Road systems feature prominently in the World Bank's Argentina portfolio. A US$150 million plan dubbed Provincial Road Infratructure supports road investment programs at the provincial level in Chubut, Corrientes, Cordoba, Entre Ríos, Neuquén and Santa Fe. The project purports to rehabilitate and maintain some 2,200 km of roads through CREMA contracts; rehabilitate and/or pave 270 km through traditional admeasurements contracts and develop a comprehensive routine maintenance program over some 9,400 km.
Additionally, the US$30 million Road Safety Project has reduced the rate of injuries and fatalities in traffic accidents by strengthening the country's institutional framework and management capacity of road safety.