Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2013

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This publication highlights a regional slowdown in GDP growth. It argues that the currency depreciation seen in several countries in the region could, if sustained, increase incentives for investment in tradable sectors other than the region’s traditional exports (commodities), while redirecting expenditure to ease pressure on the current account. Growth-supporting industrial, trade, environmental, social and labour policies that take into account the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises, could help lessen the region’s structural heterogeneity. Growth combined with greater equality would thus gain economic and social sustainability, with greater reliance from investment and exports than before. It is argued that this combination would be aided by social covenants for investment.

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Economic activity

The Latin American and Caribbean region recorded GDP growth of 2.6% in 2013, down from 3.1% in 2012. The 2013 performance represented a gain of 1.6% (2.0% in 2012) in the region's per capita GDP, less than half the average growth rate for this indicator over 2004-2008 (3.7%). These results testify to the continuation of the economic slowdown that has beleaguered the region since 2011. Aside from the regional performance, the countries' growth rates differed significantly. Sluggish regional growth in 2013 partly reflects the lackluster performance of the two largest economies in Latin America and the Caribbean: Brazil (2.4%) and Mexico (1.3%).3 Excluding these two countries, the region's GDP rose by 4.1%. Economic growth was most robust in Paraguay (13%), followed by Panama (7.5%), the Plurinational State of Bolivia (6.4%) and Peru (5.2%). The economies of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Haiti, Nicaragua and Uruguay grew at between 4% and 5% (see figure II.1).

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