• The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region had a GDP growth of 4.3% (estimate) in 2011 and is projected to grow by 3.7% in 2012 despite the continuing crisis in Europe, uncertain outlook in USA and the slow down of the Asian markets.
Both Imports and exports of LAC crossed the trillion dollar mark in 2011. Imports increased by 23% to 1.038 trillion dollars.
Foreign Direct Investment leaped to a record level of 130 billion dollars from 75 billion in 2010.
Foreign exchange reserves increased to 761 billion dollars as of October 2011 from 655 billion dollars in 2010.
The total external debt as a percentage of GDP declined to 19.2% in 2011 from 20% in 2010. The fiscal accounts of Latin America closed in 2011 with a small primary surplus.
These are the highlights of the 21 December 2011 report of the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean ( ECLAC) based in Santiago. More from the report as follows.
GDP growth projection in 2012
Latin America and the Caribbean GDP is projected to grow by 3.7% in 2012 . South America is expected to grow by 3.9% and Central America by 3.5%.
The highest growth is projected for Panama (6.5%) followed by Peru and Ecuador at 5% each. Brazil is expected to grow by 3.5%, Mexico by 3.3%, Argentina by 4.8%, Colombia by 4.5%, Chile by 4.2% and Venezuela by 3%. El Salvador has the lowest growth projection of 2%.
GDP growth in 2011
The provisional GDP growth of LAC is estimated to be 4.3%. South America had grown by 4.6% and Central America by 4.1%. Panama had the highest growth of 10.5%. Argentina grew at a Chinese rate of 9%, in 2011 slightly down from its impressive 9.2% growth in 2010. Brazil, the largest Latin American market grew by 2.9% while the second largest market, Mexico grew by 4%. Colombia had increased its growth to 5.5% in 2011 from 4.3% in 2010. Peru had grown by 7% in 2011, down from 8.8% in 2010. Chile had increased its growth to 6.3% in 2011 from 5.2% in 2010. Venezuela recovered from its recession in 2009 and 2010 and showed positive growth of 4.2% in 2011.
The main driver for the growth is domestic demand and underpinned by high commodity prices and demand.
Both imports and exports of goods of LAC crossed the trillion dollar mark in 2011. The imports in 2011 reached 1.038 trillion dollars increasing by 23.5% from 846billion in 2010. Exports increased by 23.1% to 1.097 trillion dollars from 891 billion dollars in 2010. Among the major countries, Brazil´s imports increased to 228 billion dollars in 2011 from 182 billion dollars in 2010. Mexican imports in 2011 reached 352 billion dollars from 302 billion dollars in 2010. Argentine imports increased to 71 billion dollars in 2011 from 54 billion dollars in 2010.
Foreign Exchange Reserves
Foreign exchange reserves swelled by 106 billion dollars reaching a record 761 billion dollars as of October 2011 from 655 billion dollars in 2010. Argentina was the only major country which lost (5 billion dollars) reserves in 2011. Brazil's forex reserves were the highest with 353 billion dollars followed by Mexico-141 bn, Peru- 49 bn, Argentina-48 bn, Chile- 39 bn and Colombia-33 bn.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
The FDI reached a record level of 130 billion dollars in 2011 jumping from 75 billion in 2010. Brazil attracted 81 billion dollars in 2011 from 37 billion dollars in 2010. FDI in Mexico reached 9.8 9.8 billion dollars in 2011 from 6.2 billion dollars in 2010. FDI in Argentina fell to 3.9 billion in 2011 from 6 billion dollars in 2010. Peru was the third largest destination of FDI with 7.3 7.3 billion dollars in 2011. Chile received 5.9 billion dollars, Venezuela 3.6 billion dollars and Colombia 2.6 bn. It is noteworthy that Costa Rica had attracted 1.76 billion dollars of FDI in 2011 and had consistently been receiving over one billion dollars of annual FDI since 2006. Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Panama are the other small countries which have also been receiving over one billion dollars of annual FDI since 2005.
The total external debt as a percentage of GDP declined to 19.2% in 2011 from 20% in 2010. Since 2010, the bulk of the debt of the government across most of the region has been domestic, in clear contrast to the situation in the past when external debt was more. In the case of Brazil, the ratio of external debt to GDP is 12.8% while for Mexico it is 18.3%, Colombia-21.3%, Peru-23.8%, Venezuela- 28.6%, Argentina- 31.5%, and Chile- 40.9%. The highest is in the case of Nicaragua, which is 56.7% but even this is very low in comparison to that of USA and many European countries. The total external debt of LAC stood at 1.03 trillion dollars in July 2011. Brazil's debt was 291 bn $, Mexico-206 bn, Argentina-133 bn and Chile- 98 bn.
The average rate of inflation of the region increased marginally to 6.9% in 2011 from 6.5% in 2010. But it is expected to decline in 2012. It may be noted that the rate of inflation has remained in single digit since 2003. In 2011, Only Venezuela and Argentina had inflation in double digits.
The fiscal accounts of Latin America will close 2011 with a primary surplus of 0.3% after last year´s deficit of 0.3%. The overall deficit declined on average from 1.9% of GDP in 2010 to 1.5% in 2011. This slight improvement was the result of an increase in revenues of 0.4% of GDP, while spending remained nearly constant as a proportion of GDP. Most countries reduced their deficits, transformed them into surpluses, or expanded existing surpluses.
In the first ten months of 2011, currencies of 11 countries in the region had appreciated but the trend has reversed since then.
Risks and Challenges
What will be the impact of deterioration of the European crisis?
Impact on Latin American exports will not be significant since Europe accounts only for an average of 13% of Latin American exports. Brazil is dependent upon Europe for 23% of its exports, Chile 21% and Argentina 17.8%. Mexico will be least affected since only 5.3% of its exports go to Europe. However, Latin American growth will slow down if the situation in Europe deteriorates further dragging the world into another crisis.
Slowdown in the US market will affect Mexico which is dependent upon USA for 80% of its exports. It will also impact Central America from whom US is the destination of about 40% of exports.
But the good news is that the Latin American policy makers are well prepared to deal with external shocks, having gone through such situations in the past and having learnt lessons from them. It may be recalled that the region rebounded more rapidly than expected from the impact of the 2008/2009 crisis. Most of the countries of Latin America find themselves in a reasonably well placed in macroeconomic terms to cope with the expected deterioration in the global economy and are in a strong position to weather external shocks of the kind a deepening of the debt crisis in the euro zone is expected to bring. Compared with many of the more developed countries, levels of external and public debt in the region are low and international reserves are high.
Latin America is in a happy position to say.. cheers 2012 ! This is also reconfirmation of the Decade of Growth for the New Latin America.