Last week, in Santiago, Chile, the Economic Commission of the United Nations for Latin America and the Caribbean presented its evaluation of the region's economic performance in 2012. The commission recognizes the adverse impact on regional economic growth of the recession in Europe, the slowdown in China and the slow recovery in the United States.
The end-of-year report confirms previous estimates of less regional growth, from 4.3 percent in 2011, to 3.1 percent in 2012. However, as usual, the regional average includes some steep falls and some figures of still-vigorous economic growth.
For instance, the regional average was pulled down a full percentage point by the relative weight of the economies of Argentina and Brazil, which performed at a lesser pace in 2012, at 1.2 and 2.2 percent, respectively. The commission estimates that without the figures for Brazil and Argentina, in 2012, the rest of the region grew 4.3 percent.
Again, Panama's economy grew spectacularly, at 10.5 percent, while Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica and Venezuela grew at around 5 percent and Peru more than 6 percent. Additionally, proximity to the slow recovering U.S. economy contributed to 4.2 percent growth in Central America and 3.8 percent in Mexico.
Looking ahead, the commission projects that in 2013 Latin American economic growth, due to better performances in Argentina and Brazil, will increase to 3.8 percent.
Isaac Cohen is an international analyst and consultant, a commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, and a former director, UNECLAC Washington Office.
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