ArmInfo. Armenia's gross international reserves decreased by 9.4% in Q1 2023 (against a 10% decline in Q1 2022) or by $387.4 million, amounting to $3.724 billion (against a historical maximum of $4.112 billion in December 2022). This is evidenced by the data of the Central Bank of the Republic of Armenia.
Within gross international reserves, the lion's share in - $3.701 billion falls on external assets in hard currency, and the share of SDR in the IMF amounted to $21.7 million. According to the report of the regulator, for Q1 2023, foreign assets in hard currency decreased by 9.9%, and the share of SDRs in the IMF increased 3.5-fold (against an increase of 56.4% a year earlier), repeating last year's quarterly dynamics of a decrease in foreign assets in hard currency by 10.2%, with an increase in SDRs in the IMF by 56.4%.
The y-o-y dynamics (March 2023 vs March 2022) have been increasing: gross international reserves increased by 26.7% or by $784 million, with an increase in external assets in hard currency by 28.1% and a decline in the share of SDR in the IMF by 57.7%. A year earlier, in March 2022 vs March 2021, the dynamics have been declining: gross international reserves decreased by 3% or by $86.1 million, with a decline in external assets in hard currency by 5% and a 17.4-fold increase in the share of SDR in the IMF. At the same time, on a monthly term, gross international reserves reversed their dynamics from the February 3.9% decline to the March 5.1% growth, while a year earlier, in February-March, a downward trend was recorded with a slowdown from 4% to 2.4%. A similar trend reversal in March was also observed for external assets in hard currency - from a 3.8% decline to a 5.1% increase (against a slowdown in the decline from 4% to 3.1% in March 2022). And the share of SDR in the IMF lingered in March in a decline with a slowdown from 26.1% to 4.1%, while a year ago in March 2022, the trend showed a 65.3% increase from a 4.8% decline.
It should be noted that by 2023, Armenia's gross international reserves (GIR) reached a historic high of $4.112 billion, with a y-o-y growth of 27.3% or $881.8 million (against 23.5% growth in 2021). In their structure, external assets in hard currency also reached a historical maximum - $4.108 billion, having increased by 28.5% over 2022, with a decline in the share of SDR in the IMF by 81.3% - to $6.2 million, while a year earlier there was an increase in both external assets in hard currency and the share of SDR in the IMF 22.7% and 3.7- fold, respectively. It is pertinent to note that the share of SDRs in the IMF for 2022 has moved even further away from the August 2021 record level of $178.2 million.
As a comparison, let's cite the pre-Covid dynamics of 2019: the growth of foreign assets in hard currency by 26.2% and the share of SDRs in the IMF by 3.2% ensured the growth of the gross international reserves by 26.1%. The share of banking gold in Armenia's gross international reserves was set to zero back in December 2003.
In early May 2022, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided to provide Armenia with 25.716 million SDRs (about $35 million) under the Stand-By Agreement (SBA), as a result of which the total amount of payments under the program will be 308.8 million SDRs (about $415 million).
The IMF report indicated that the Fund's Executive Board took the decision without convening formal discussions, completing the review of the sixth and final SBA reviews, thereby allowing the authorities to raise the abovementioned amount. The same report noted that the performance of the three-year standby agreement (SBA) remained high despite a number of internal and external shocks. Much later, on December 13, 2022, the IMF approved a three-year standby loan program for Armenia in the amount of about $171.1 million (128.8 million SDR), which is about 100% of the RA quota in the IMF. Since the approval of this program in December, $24.4 million has been immediately available to Armenia, and the rest of the amount will be provided after final reviews of six semi-annual periods. According to the Armenian authorities, this reserve program is considered preventive and will help insure the balance of payments against shock consequences, as well as stimulate the efforts of the authorities in terms of reforms. In mid-April 2023, it was announced that about $24.8 million of the Stand-by loan would become available to Armenia after the meeting of the IMF Council in mid-June this year.