March 19, 2020 / 5:40 PM / 5 months ago

Coronavirus to have short-lived drastic impact on Armenian economy: minister

YEREVAN (Reuters) - The spread of the coronavirus will have a short-lived, drastic impact on Armenia’s economy, Economy Minister Tigran Khachatryan said on Thursday.

The former Soviet republic has reported 122 confirmed cases of coronavirus, without any deaths so far.

“It will have a short, drastic impact. We’ve already seen consequences in different spheres of economy, but I’m sure we will become stronger...,” Khachatryan told a briefing.

He could not specify how much gross domestic product might fall this year.

He said Armenian authorities were in talks with international financial institutions about adjusting ongoing aid programs to account for the economic hit from coronavirus.

The country of around 3 million people still depends heavily on aid and investment from former imperial power Russia, whose economic downturn has in recent years hit Armenian exports as well as remittances from Armenians working in Russia.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday that the government would provide $305 million to companies and entrepreneurs in the near future to help them mitigate the economic blow from coronavirus.

Armenia projects economic growth of 4.9% in 2020 after 7.9% recorded in 2019, the highest growth in the South Caucasus region, supported by expansion in the mining, manufacturing and services sectors.

Armenia has been largely reliant on mining and agriculture since the break-up of the Soviet Union, but sectors including tourism, information technology, services and light manufacturing of products such as textiles also help growth.

Reporting by Nvard Hovhannisyan; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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