With a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than US$490 billion Argentina is one of the largest economies in Latin 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.
Argentina's economy is characterized by its valuable natural resources, leading the country to be one of the main producers of food, thanks to agriculture and cattle breeding. Argentina is one of the largest exporters of beef in the world and the top world producer of sunflower crops, yerba mate, lemons, and soybean oil. The opening of the Chinese market represents a boost in the consolidation of an export profile.
In recent years, moreover, the country experienced record growth within the domestic industry, particularly in the automotive, textile, and appliances industries.
The country has grown steadily during the past decade and has invested heavily in health and education, areas which account for 8% and 6% of GDP respectively. Between 2003 and 2009, the middle class doubled from 9.3 million to 18.6 million (equivalent to 45 % of the population).
It has prioritized social spending through various programs, including the creation of the Universal Child Allowance, which reaches approximately 3.7 million children and adolescents up to 18 years old, 9.3% of the population.
In recent months, the economy's external sector faces significant challenges. In 2013, Argentina had a primary deficit of 0.9% of GDP and an overall deficit of 2.5% of GDP. Revenue increased by 30.4% (yoy) and expenditure by 29.1% (yoy). According to new estimates, GDP growth rate for 2013 was 3% (base year 2004). In this context, the forecasts for the growth rate for 2014 range from 0.9% to 2.5%.