AIIB approves $50 mln loan for Georgia to ease impact of coronavirus

TBILISI, July 22 (Reuters) - The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said on Wednesday it had approved a 45 million euro ($50 million) loan to Georgia to support the South Caucasus country’s economy and provide more protection against the coronavirus.

The loan, which will be jointly financed by the World Bank, is the second for Georgia following $100 million in emergency assistance approved in May, which was used to finance the country’s health infrastructure and social protection measures during COVID-19.

Georgia, a country of 3.7 million, has reported 1,073 cases of the coronavirus and 16 deaths as of Wednesday, a relatively low number compared to some countries.

However it expects its economy to be hit hard by the impact of the pandemic as it relies heavily on tourism, forecasting GDP will shrink by 4% this year after growing 5.2% in 2019.

“By providing financing to support mitigation measures and safeguard macroeconomic stability, AIIB’s response will help minimise losses and put the country back on a recovery path,” Konstantin Limitovskiy, AIIB’s vice president for investment operations, said in a statement. (Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Jan Harvey)