WASHINGTON – The global trade conflict has caused 1.6 percent fall in Latin American and Caribbean exports in the first quarter of 2019 – the first decline after two years of uninterrupted expansion, the Inter-American Development Bank reported on Tuesday.
The figure contrasts with the 8.9 percent average increase in the regional exports registered in 2018.
The report by Latin America’s largest development lender stressed that the change was marked by last year’s slowdown and greater global trade conflict, especially between the United States and China.
By destination, China’s imports from the region grew at a remarkable rate in the first quarter of 2019 and remained the most dynamic – although with a clear tendency towards a slowdown – with the first quarter of the year rising by more than 18 percent.
The US, the main export destination, and the European Union showed virtual stagnation in purchases from the region. Trade between the countries in the region has also shown marked contraction.
This overview corresponded to the decline in South America, which saw exports contract 5.4 percent, compared with an 8.3 percent rise in 2018.
“The slowdown in the growth rate (of South America) is explained by low export volumes and the reversal of price trends for some of the commodities exported by these countries,” said the report, titled “Trade Trend Estimates Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Although shipments to China and the rest of Asia increased, they were not sufficient enough to compensate the contractions in sales of the main destinations, added the report.
Mesoamerica’s exports experienced a sharp slowdown between the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, and it is estimated that the inter-annual rate in the first three months of the year was 2.1 percent after growing 9.4 percent in 2018.
The causes are a decline in the rate of expansion of shipments from Mexico (2.3 percent inter-annually in the first quarter and 10.1 percent in 2018), and to a lesser extent, the reversal of Central American exports that are estimated to have contracted by 0.7 percent in the first quarter following a sparse growth of 3.2 percent in 2018.
At the regional level, only Barbados, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Suriname experienced positive variation rates in their exports in early 2019.