According to the December 2008 report of ECLAC ( Economic Commission for LatAmerica and Caribbean) the GDP growth of Latin America and Caribbean in 2008 is estimated as 4.6%. This makes it as the sixth consecutive year of growth for the region, a record in the last forty years. From 2003 to 2007, the region grew by an annual average of 5%. The growth was combined with reduction in poverty, increase in employment and surplus of fiscal and external accounts in general.
Uruguay had the highest GDP growth of 11.5 % in Latin America. Peru was the number two with 9.4% followed by Panama with 9.2%. Brazil, the largest market of the region grew by 5.9% while Mexico the second largest market grew by 1.8% and Argentina the third largest market grew by 7%.
In 2009, GDP growth for the region is projected to decline to 1.9%, following the global crisis and slowdown of economies. The highest growth projected is 5% for Peru, followed by Panama at 4.5% and Uruguay 4%. The lowest growth predicted is 0.5% for Mexico. Brazil growth is forecast at 2.1% and that of Argentina 2.6%.
Although the region is better prepared than before to handle external shocks, the global crisis and slowdown will drive down export volumes and prices, remittances, foreign direct investment and the demand for tourism services. In addition, external financing will be more expensive and will be more difficult to obtain for the countries of the region.
Average inflation of the region is expected to go down to 6% in 2009 from 8.5% in 2008.
According to Latin Business Chronicle estimate, exports of the region in 2008 grew by 18% to 902 billion dollars. Imports increased by 23% to 857 billion dollars in 2008. Service exports went up by 18% to 116 billion dollars while imports increased by 20% to 145 billion.
India´s exports to the region had increased by 25% in 2008. Brazil remained as the top destination with 2.7 billion dollars. Mexico maintained its second position with 1012 million dollars in Jan- Sept, followed by Colombia with 452 million dollars in Jan-Oct, Peru with 478 million in Jan-Nov and Argentina with 386 million in Jan-November.