Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact is wide-reaching, from a decline in external demand to a rise in uncertainty and the closure of businesses. Unemployment rates have increased across the region, substantially in some countries.
Despite the major impact of the pandemic, the economic outlook for LAC is expected to improve this year. After regional GDP declined by 6.7% (excluding Venezuela) in 2020, the region is expected to grow by 4.4% in 2021.
According to UNCTAD, FDI in LAC plunged a stunning 37% in 2020, and Brazil was the worst hit, with a 55% decrease. Among the major economies, Mexico experienced a decline of less than 10%. FDI in Peru, Colombia, and Argentina dropped by 76%, 49%, and 47%, respectively.
In FY21, MIGA supported 8 projects in 8 LAC countries and issued guarantees for a total of $2.5 billion. In The Bahamas, MIGA made its first transaction by issuing a guarantee to strengthen the country’s public health system and support local small and medium enterprises amid the pandemic. In Paraguay, MIGA issued its first guarantees in over 24 years to facilitate a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, mainly for the country’s export-oriented sector. The Agency also issued Capital Optimization guarantees in Argentina, Chile, and Peru, and Non-Honoring of Financial Obligations (NHFO) guarantees in Mexico and Panama, to help these countries address the negative impacts of the pandemic. Besides, the Agency supported a non-COVID-19 manufacturing project in Ecuador.
In FY20, MIGA supported 6 projects in the LAC region and issued guarantees for a total of almost $1.5 billion. This included two Non-Honoring of Financial Obligations (NHFO) transactions in Panama and one NHFO guarantee in Colombia, two Capital Optimization guarantees in Argentina and Uruguay, and one Political Risk Insurance (PRI) guarantee in Colombia.
MIGA’s commitment to improving the lives of citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean, who have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, is strong. Since April 2020, the Agency has issued over $3.8 billion in new guarantees in the region. In FY21, roughly half of all new MIGA guarantees were issued in LAC, and 98.6% of the new issuances in the region were through the Agency’s $6.5 billion COVID-19 Response Program. In the previous fiscal year, 71% of the total amount of MIGA’s new issuances in the LAC region was through its COVID-19 Response Program.
Examples of MIGA-Supported Projects in Latin America and the Caribbean
In April 2021, MIGA issued a guarantee for US$118.56 million to Banco Santander SA of Spain for its loans to the Ministry of Finance of The Bahamas. Proceeds from the MIGA-guaranteed loan will support the Public Hospitals Authority’s (PHA) modernization of the public health system to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through the Bahamian Small Business Development Centre (SBDC).
This project is MIGA’s first engagement in The Bahamas and is aligned with the Agency’s COVID-19 Response Program.
In June 2020, MIGA issued guarantees on a fifteen-year, US$250 million loan provided by Kairos Global Solutions S.A. (Kairos), and a five-year, US$150 million loan provided by BBVA, to Caja de Ahorros (CA) of Panama. These guarantees will protect the lenders against the risk of Non-Honoring of Financial Obligations by a State-Owned Enterprise (NHFO-SOE).
The MIGA-guaranteed loan from Kairos, arranged by Citi and funded in large part by institutional investors, will expand CA’s mortgage lending to low- and middle-income households in Panama, increasing access to affordable housing. The MIGA-guaranteed loan from BBVA will help finance CA’s response to the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19.
MIGA also issued guarantees covering seven-year loan facilities totaling US$510 million from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (US$360 million) and other international lenders (US$150 million) to Banco Nacional de Panamá (BNP). MIGA’s guarantees provide cover against the risk of Non-Honoring of a Financial Obligation of State-Owned Enterprise (NHFO-SOE).
The MIGA-guaranteed loans will be used to finance a US$1 billion trust fund established by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and BNP to provide emergency liquidity to the Panamanian economy and help the country mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In FY20, MIGA issued a guarantee of US$385 million for two years to JP Morgan Chase Bank, Banco Santander, BBVA and other investors, for loans being provided to Colombia’s Business Development Bank of Colombia (Bancóldex). The MIGA guarantee provides protection to the lenders from the risks of Non-Honoring of Financial Obligations by a State-Owned Enterprise (NHFO-SOE).
With this guarantee, Bancóldex will access international credit markets and provide financing for short-term loans through financial intermediaries (FI) to micro-, small- and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and corporates in key economic sectors such as manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, transportation, tourism, and communications.
MIGA also issued a guarantee of US$47.5 million for ten years for a loan being provided to Banco Davivienda S.A. (Davivienda) of Colombia. The MIGA guarantee provides protection to the lender against the risks of Currency Inconvertibitlity and Transfer Restriction.
Davivienda will use this MIGA-backed loan to strengthen its capital base and boost lending to women-owned, micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (WSMEs), low-income social housing, and green building projects in Colombia.
In December 2020, MIGA issued guarantees of US$101 million to Citibank NA and Commerzbank AG for their loans to Banco Nacional de Fomento (BNF) of Paraguay. The guarantees, which support BNF’s efforts to stem the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Paraguay’s export-oriented sectors, have been issued for up to seven years and provide protection against the risk of Non-Honoring of Financial Obligations of a State-Owned Enterprise (NHFO-SOE).
The export-oriented sector represents over 35% of Paraguay’s GDP and has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Loans backed by MIGA guarantees will help export-oriented companies continue operating during the COVID-19 crisis and retain their employees.