SANTIAGO – Regional economic activity is expected to grow 1.2 percent this year, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said on Thursday.
“A rebound in the region’s economies is expected for 2018, with growth averaging 2.2 percent, which would be the highest rate since 2013,” ECLAC said in a statement.
The estimate for 2017 regional gross domestic product (GDP) growth reflects an upward revision of one-tenth of a percentage point from the July forecast.
“As in the last few years, growth dynamics are seen differing between countries and subregions,” ECLAC said.
South America’s economies, which specialize in the production of primary goods, particularly oil, minerals and food, will grow 0.70 percent this year after two years of contraction.
Greater dynamism is expected for this subregion in 2018, when GDP growth is estimated at 2 percent, on average, ECLAC said.
Central America’s economies are projected to grow 3.4 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2018.
ECLAC said average GDP growth in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean is expected to be 0.30 percent this year, a downward revision from July’s projection “mainly due to the damage caused by the Irma and Maria Hurricanes in some countries of that subregion.”
“In 2018, however, increased dynamism is forecast with a growth rate of 1.9 percent, influenced in some cases by spending efforts aimed at reconstruction, as well as a somewhat more dynamic global context in terms of growth and foreign trade,” the report said.
The capacity of the region’s countries “to generate a more dynamic economic growth process that is sustained over time depends on the space for adopting policies that support investment,” ECLAC said.
This “will be fundamental for mitigating the effects of external shocks and averting significant impacts on economic performance in the medium and long term,” the UN agency said.
“In this context, bolstering both public and private investment is essential, along with diversifying the productive structure to achieve one with more value added and greater incorporation of technology and knowledge,” ECLAC said.