(Adds industrial output background)
BUENOS AIRES, March 15 (Reuters) - Argentina's industrial output should grow more than 6% this year versus 2020 as Latin America's No. 3 economy rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Development and Production Matias Kulfas told reporters on Monday.
He said he expected Argentina's economy as a whole to expand 5% to 6% during the year, based on preliminary data and depending on how the novel coronavirus evolves and its impact on growth. The latest poll of economists by the central bank showed expectations of 6.2% economic growth in 2021. The economy contracted 10% last year.
"The change in industrial policy has allowed growth in production and employment at rates above the pre-pandemic period," Kulfas told reporters during a trip to a Toyota automobile plant in Buenos Aires.
Automotive production in the country fell 18.3% last year, according to the Association of Automotive Manufacturers.
The economy has been in recession since 2018. The government shut down swaths of the industrial sector about a year ago in reaction to the pandemic. Many restrictions have been lifted in recent months.
Industrial output fell 7.6% in 2020 following a contraction of 6.3% in 2019.
(Reporting by Agustin Geist; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Peter Cooney)