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Andorra becomes IMF’s 190th member as coronavirus pandemic hits tourist entries

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Europe’s tiny Andorra formally joined the International Monetary Fund on Friday, becoming the crisis lender’s 190th member state as the tourism and trade-dependent principality struggles with the coronavirus pandemic.

The IMF said in a statement that Andorra’s initial quota – the capital subscription that determines its voting power and access to financing – is 82.5 million Special Drawing Rights, or about $116.4 million.

“Andorra faces both short-term and long-term challenges common to European and other IMF member countries which have been aggravated by the (coronavirus) pandemic,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement after a signing ceremony with Elisenda Vives Balmana, Andorra’s ambassador to the United States, Canada and Mexico and the United Nations.

“The IMF stands ready to work closely with the authorities and people of Andorra in achieving their post-pandemic growth and development objectives in cooperation with other partners in the international community,” she added.

Fitch Ratings said in July that Andorra would experience a deep recession in 2020, forecasting GDP to contract by 11.4%, with a 50% drop in tourist entries. Nonetheless, Fitch affirmed Andorra’s BBB+ investment-grade sovereign debt rating, forecasting a return to 4.3% growth in 2021.

As an IMF member, the principality’s government will get an annual review of its economic prospects and policies by Fund staff, technical policy advice and full participation in IMF and World Bank spring and annual meetings.

According to World Bank data, Andorra had a 2019 population of 77,142 and GDP output of $3.15 billion, qualifying it as a “high-income” country. While it uses the euro currency, it is not a part of the eurozone or the European Union and does not have its own central bank.

The IMF said trade and tourism comprise close to 40% of Andorra’s economic output, with almost 8 million visitors to its ski slopes and mountain trails in 2019. Financial services account for another 20% of its GDP. (Reporting by David Lawder in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis)


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