SANTIAGO -- Economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean will fall next year to 1.9 percent from its estimated level of 4.6 percent for 2008, the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said Thursday
In its Preliminary Balance 2008, Santiago-based ECLAC - however - emphasized that 2008 has been the sixth consecutive year of growth for the region, a period during which the labor market indicators also improved and poverty fell.
Almost all the region's countries gave priority to macroeconomic equilibrium and generated budget surpluses, Alicia Barcena, the ECLAC executive secretary, emphasized upon presenting the document.
Barcena said that today the region is better prepared to confront the global economic slowdown, but it is certainly not immune to it.
On that basis, besides a falling regional growth rate, the organization predicts for next year an increase in unemployment from its 7.8 percent level for this year to around 8 percent in 2009.
Looking at individual countries, this year it was Uruguay that led the region's growth with a rate of 11.5 percent, followed by Peru at 9.4 percent; Panama, 9.2 percent; Argentina, with growth of 6.8 percent; and Ecuador, 6.5 percent.
Brazil grew this year at 5.9 percent, one tenth of a percent more than Bolivia, whereas Paraguay grew at 5.0 percent; Venezuela, 4.8 percent; the Dominican Republic, 4.5 percent; Cuba, 4.3 percent; Chile, 3.8 percent; and Honduras, 3.8 percent.
Costa Rica's growth came in at 3.3 percent, while Colombia achieved 3.0 percent growth, as did El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Bringing up the rear on the list were Mexico, with growth of 1.8 percent, and nearly destitute Haiti, whose economy grew 1.5 percent.