Blog posts tagged by tag: Latin America
The likelihood of a free trade agreement (FTA) between Mercosur and the European Union (EU) is growing. In the most recent round of negotiations held in Brasilia earlier this month, the leaders of both blocs made it clear that they are willing to move towards signing the treaty. Recent advances come within the context of growing protectionism in the United States. While prospects that the treaty will be signed are bright, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. The leaders of both blocs have been negotiating for over 10 years and there are still important obstacles to be overcome.
Chileans will head to the polls on 19 November to choose a new president, amid a political panorama in flux. While the right is united behind Chile Vamos candidate Sebastian Piñera, the multi-billionaire former leader, the left has rarely looked more divided and will field three candidates in the first round. As a result of this fractured scenario, the policy options on offer to citizens are extremely broad; this is best highlighted by the leftist candidate Beatriz Sanchez, who is proposing a break with the largely consensual, market-oriented policies pursued since the restoration of democracy in 1990. However, the country looks set to opt once more for the known quantity of Piñera, who is expected to pursue a business-friendly agenda.
To examine the elections—and particularly Piñera’s program—in more detail, we speak to Maria del Pilar Cruz, Senior Economist at the Santiago Chamber of Commerce, who regularly participates in our Consensus Forecast panel.
The commodities prices and volumes in Latin America are showing signs of recovery, after the four years of poor performance that followed the slowdown caused by the global economic and financial crisis. The renewed momentum comes within a context in which global trade is expected to expand by 3.6% in 2017, according to the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Commission (ECLAC) Perspectives on International Trade in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Economic crises are part of Latin America’s collective unconscious. In the beginning of the 1980s, the exhaustion of the economic model based on industrialization led to the debt crisis that gave rise to what is known as the "lost decade". From then on, over the course of more than twenty years, crises affected most of the countries of the region at various points in time. This stage however, is now in the past. "Dictatorships have ceased to be the norm and in most of the region, government institutions have improved, there is more responsible economic policy in place, and better and stricter fiscal and monetary policies have been implemented," according to a study by Pablo Bejar, a researcher at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The quality of infrastructure in Latin American countries compared to other regions of the world is only better than that of African countries and is not even half as good as that of developed countries. According to the Latin America Development Infrastructure (CAF) report, published in 2016, the infrastructure gap remains significant. Taking into consideration current trends, it is estimated that the region would have to work for two decades to reach the current level of infrastructure in the OECD countries.
Several studies recommend that in order to catch up, Latin American countries must invest around 5% of annual GDP. In recent years, investment in infrastructure has oscillated between just 2.4% and 3.2% of GDP. In order to address this situation, involving both the public and private sectors is essential.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) to Latin America and the Caribbean will drop 5% this year following the 7.9% drop in 2016 over the previous year, according to a new report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Although Latin America received 10% of global FDI in 2016—quite high compared to other regions—the amount was actually lower compared to the 2011–2014 period, when it received 14% of all foreign investment.
This fall in investment in the region is due to three fundamental factors. The decline in raw material prices has impacted investments directed toward the natural resources sector; several economies in the region have seen a slowdown; and "technological sophistication and expansion of the digital economy that tends towards a concentration of transnational investments in developed economies," is also having an impact, according to the annual report on Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.
What a renegotiation of NAFTA could mean for Mexico, and for the economies of Latin America as a whole, has been at top of mind for markets and the region since 18 May when U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sent formal notice to Congress of the administration’s intention of renegotiating the agreement.
President Trump has repeatedly stated that the main objective of his trade policy is to reduce trade deficits with several of the U.S.’ trading partners and to review 20 of its agreements that contain "possible abuses and violations." The executive order explicitly states that all trade relations and preferential trade programs must contribute favorably to the United States’ trade balance and strengthen its manufacturing industry. Yet many of the agreements are failing in this regard.
Taxes or cutbacks? Latin America's challenge of sustaining spending without causing debt to skyrocket
This year’s economic outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean is optimistic. However, in 2015 and 2016, the region experienced a deep economic recession, which was felt across all of the countries in the region, although it affected Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela in particular. Against this backdrop, how was it possible for the region to sustain the social advances it had achieved in the decades before the recession?
Chile's economy has slowed in recent quarters, as the once booming mining sector has performed poorly and fixed investment has fallen sharply, taking business and consumer confidence with it. These issues continue to plague the economy as we move into Q3, with that in mind FocusEconomics Economist Oliver Reynolds interviewed Senior Economist for the Chamber of Commerce of Santiago, Maria del Pilar Cruz, about the potential future of the all-important mining sector as well as future economic growth prospects, President Bachelet's reforms, and inequality in Chile.
How will Latin America’s upcoming lengthy election cycle affect the reform agenda and credit ratings?
Latin America will soon enter into an electoral cycle that will last about a year and a half and, depending on the results, some countries could face difficulties in terms of their credit ratings. This is because of one important factor: The ongoing fiscal consolidation continues to be a challenge for many governments that are facing a context of low economic growth and lower tax revenues, especially those related to low commodity prices, which makes it even more difficult to curb the current debt dynamics in the region.
*Guest blog post from Latinoamerica21.
Presidential elections are scheduled in seven countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay and Venezuela. All of the countries, with the exception of Venezuela, will see their current presidents’ terms ending and new leaders taking on the role. In addition, congressional elections will be held in Argentina— which could test Mauricio Macri’s reform agenda—and in El Salvador, where months of political paralysis has led to a significant decline in sources of funding for the government in addition to a debt default.
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The elections will be of particular importance for the future of credit ratings for countries that have a negative outlook: Brazil, Chile and Mexico.
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