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Latin America and Caribbean GDP surprises with 4 per cent growth in 2004 - UN

Latin America and Caribbean GDP surprises with 4 per cent growth in 2004 - UN

Even though average capital inflows declined, the overall economy of Latin America and the Caribbean and the regional gross development product (GDP) grew much more than expected in 2004, with Venezuela showing the most spectacular increase, the United Nations agency which tracks the economies of the area says.

"Except for Haiti, every country posted positive growth," the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said yesterday in launching "The Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2004."

"This is the second time in the past 20 years that the region's six largest economies - Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela - will all grow more than 3 per cent. This occurred previously in 1997."

The United States and China were the economic engines pushing up certain commodity prices, especially oils and metals, which benefited the countries producing those materials. The increases hurt some commodity-importing countries in the region, however.

Experiencing intense recoveries were Venezuela, which posted a growth rate of 18 per cent, Uruguay, 12 per cent, Argentina, 8.2 per cent and Belize, 7 per cent; Other highly productive countries were Ecuador, 6.3 per cent; Trinidad and Tobago, 6.2 per cent; Panama, 6 per cent; Chile, along with St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 5.8 per cent; and Brazil, 5.2 per cent.

Among the major regional economies, Colombia grew 4.1 per cent and Mexico, 3.3 per cent.

At the other end of the spectrum were conflict- and hurricane-battered Haiti with a growth rate of -3 per cent and hurricane-flattened Grenada with -1.4 per cent.