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Argentine government considers revamping BICE into a development bank

Argentina's new government, led by President Alberto Fernández, is considering revamping Banco de Inversión y Comercio Exterior SA, or BICE, into a development bank, primarily focused on soft loans for companies' productive endeavors, La Nación reported Dec. 17.

The move would raise the profile of the state-owned institution, whose reconfiguration would be based on Brazil's Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social, or BNDES, government sources told the newspaper.

In order to prop up BICE with the capital it would need to fulfill its new role as a subsidized lender for small and medium-sized enterprises, Fernández's economic team would reportedly make use of the extra revenue it plans to collect by raising import tariffs. The hike is part of a wider-reaching bill presented Dec. 17 by Economy Minister Martín Guzmán.