Washington -- The United Nations is forecasting
relatively positive economic news in 2005 for Latin America
and the Caribbean, after the region enjoyed a banner year
In an April 20 statement, the U.N. Economic
Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said
economic growth in the region is expected to be at about
4.4 percent, as compared to 2004, when growth was 5.8 percent,
the region's highest rate since 1980.
ECLAC forecast that the region's best economies
in 2005 will be in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela,
with growth in those countries at 6 percent or more.
ECLAC forecast growth rates of 4 percent
for Brazil, 3.7 percent for Mexico and Central America,
and about 4 percent for the Caribbean and the nations of
the Andean region -- Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador.
ECLAC made its forecast in a new report,
America and the Caribbean: Projections 2005. (Report
is in Spanish.)
The commission said lower growth in 2005
in Latin America and the Caribbean reflects a slowdown in
the world economy and more moderate growth in several nations,
such as Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela, that experienced
strong recoveries in 2004.
The region's rate of inflation will remain
within year-2004 ranges, at about 7 percent. However, some
countries will see a slight rise in inflation, due to higher
fees for regulated services and international prices for
food and oil.
Fiscal policy in 2004 in Latin America and
the Caribbean was characterized by improvements in public
finance in several countries. In 2005, expenditures should
remain under control, while revenues are forecast to rise
slightly, said ECLAC.
High indebtedness observed in some countries,
however, will make their growth vulnerable to an increase
in interest rates in the United States.
ECLAC said the U.S. dollar depreciation
against the euro and the yen, apparent in 2004, is expected
to continue in 2005, with "important consequences"
for the region, since it will give "additional impetus
to several countries' efforts to diversify their export
destinations." ECLAC added that the U.S. dollar depreciation
will help make Latin America and the Caribbean an attractive
destination for tourists from Asia and Europe.