Multilateral lender Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is providing a USD50-million loan to Ecuador's largest public bank Corporación Financiera Nacional B.P. (CFN) to address the liquidity constraints facing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country as a result of the economic crisis induced by COVID-19. The loan is provided under AIIB's COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility (CRF). This is AIIB's first loan in the country and its first financing in Latin America.
Ecuador has been severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The country is a commodity exporter, and falling commodity prices could have lasting effects for the economy and for public budgets. GDP is expected to contract by 11 percent this year. Indicators suggest that financial institutions have been restricting access to credit in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Many firms in Ecuador are small in size, young and struggling to survive. MSMEs represent 99.5 percent of firms in the country and 60 percent of formal employment. The pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for MSMEs to meet their operational needs and expenses, such as payroll, supplies, rent and utilities, and to procure necessary goods and services to maintain their productive capacity. Trade between Ecuador and Asia has doubled in the last decade, and a high number of exporters and importers are MSMEs.
Against this backdrop, the project, cofinanced with the World Bank, aims to provide liquidity to MSMEs to cover their working capital needs, and maintain business and trade volumes with Asia. The financing will provide, through CFN, short-term financing for MSMEs in the form of partial credit guarantees and credit lines to participating financial intermediaries (PFIs). It is expected that the AIIB loan will provide 350 smaller loans and 1,000 partial credit guarantees to eligible MSMEs associated with Asia-Ecuador trade.
'Our first investment in Ecuador comes at a time when liquidity support is critically needed in response to the pandemic. This project provides crucial access to finance for private-sector corporates to help them sustain their businesses through these difficult times,' said AIIB Vice President, Investment Operations, Konstantin Limitovskiy. 'By focusing our support on trade between Asia and Ecuador, we are able to assist one of our Latin American members during this economic crisis while staying true to our purpose, which is to foster sustainable economic development in Asia.'
The CRF provides up to USD13 billion of financing to both public and private-sector entities facing serious adverse impacts as a result of the pandemic. As of Nov. 25, 2020, AIIB's Board of Directors has approved a total of 25 projects amounting to nearly USD7 billion to help 17 members navigate the challenges of these highly uncertain times. The facility is designed to be flexible and adaptable to emerging demand in AIIB's members. Top areas of focus include immediate health sector needs (pandemic preparedness, medical equipment), economic resilience (protecting the productive capacity of the economy) and financing to address liquidity constraints in infrastructure and other productive sectors. Additional projects being proposed under the CRF can be found on AIIB's website.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia. Headquartered in Beijing, we began operations in January 2016 and have now grown to 103 approved members worldwide. By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia and beyond, we will better connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.