EspañolLast Wednesday the United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America (ECLAC) released their closely followed “Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean” (embedded below this article). In 2013, the authors say, economic activity in the region has grown in value by 2.6 percent — lower than the 3 percent rate they projected in July. However, their 2014 projection for the region is an improved 3.2 percent growth.
To put that 3.2 percent in perspective, ECLAC forecasts that Latin-American economic development will be the highest of all regions for 2014, mostly on account of international market conditions. That outlook stems from what they claim are the key determinants of economic growth in the region: dynamic of external demand, volatility of international markets, and levels of consumption. In particular, they foresee a significant increase for exports from the region.
Regarding the countries included in this report, Paraguay leads the region in economic growth, followed by Panama, Bolivia, and Peru — while Argentina and Chile lagged behind. Similarly, in the forecasts for 2014, Panama leads regional growth, followed by Bolivia and Peru. The countries with the lowest projected growth rates are Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil.
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Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of ECLAC, attended the official launch of the report and said, “The global context of the economy in 2014 raises many opportunities, but also threats to Latin America and the Caribbean . . . among all the opportunities, there is a rise in international trade, as well as possibilities to make the best out of the currency depreciation, in order to secure sustained changes in relative prices.”
Regarding what happened this year in the economic arena, ECLAC highlighted both positives and negatives for Latin America. On the one hand, there was a rise in investment and steady unemployment rates. On the other, there was a reduction in consumption levels, which they assert brought a slowdown to wages and use of credit.
The report also reveals that the rates of inflation vary widely across the countries of the region; however, in most parts the average was near 5 percent. In addition, the balance-of-payments current account deficit increased from 1.8 percent in 2012, to 2.5 percent of the GDP in 2013, resulting from poorer-performing exports and more investment in the region.
The 2013 report concludes with the call for Latin-American governments to overcome next year’s challenges by evaluating and pushing forward new agreements that will attract more investment and increase the levels of productivity and economic growth for each country and the region.
Translated by Marcela Estrada.