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Latin American Trade Sets New Record

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Mexico, Chile and Peru are among the key winners, while most of CAFTA are among the losers in export growth.

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

Latin America set a new record in trade last year, according to estimates from the United Nations. Total trade reached $1.3 trillion, a 18.3 increase from 2005. Exports grew by 18.4 percent to $680.9 billion, while imports increased 18.2 percent to $588.2 billion, according to estimates from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

"Fortunately, we are in a boom in Latin America, spurred by the demand...especially from China," says Isaac Cohen, former Washington director for ECLAC and president of consultancy Inverway.

In addition to demand from China, Latin America's exports have been helped by the steady expansion of the world economy, India’s increasing importance in world demand and international capital markets’ high levels of liquidity, accorfding to ECLAC. "These trends have driven up export volumes and improved the region’s terms of trade, thereby helping to boost its trade surpluses," the commission says.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Paraguay led the way in both export and import growth, measured by percentage change, according to a Latin Business Chronicle analysis of the ECLAC data. Other export winners include Chile (up 40.7 percent), Bolivia (38.4 percent), Peru (37.0 percent) and Ecuador (25.2 percent).

The top losers in export growth are El Salvador, which only saw a 4.2 percent increase last year. The Dominican Republic followed (4.8 percent), with Haiti (8.1 percent), Guatemala (9.3 percent) and Honduras (10.7 percent) rounding out the top five losers.

On the import side, the second-largest winner after Paraguay was Venezuela (36.0 percent), followed by Uruguay (29.6 percent), Brazil (24.2 percent) and Colombia (23.5 percent), according to the analysis from Latin Business Chronicle.

Measured in real terms, however, Mexico is again the undisputed winner in...

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