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Latin America set for feeble growth of 0.5% in 2019: UN

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The region is mired in "uncertainty and slowdown," according to Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL).

[SANTIAGO] Hit by five years of "economic slowdown", Latin America's economy will grow by barely 0.5 per cent this year, the United Nations economic commission for the region said on Wednesday, well below the 1.3 per cent projected in April.

The region is mired in "uncertainty and slowdown," according to Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL).

"We've had five years of economic slowdown, this is hugely worrying," added Barcena while presenting the report in Santiago.

The region's woes have been in part provoked by the collapse of Venezuela's economy, which has shrunk by 23 per cent this year, as the country reels from a fifth year of recession.

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The International Monetary Fund had predicted inflation would soar to a staggering 10 million per cent this year, although it revised that figure on Monday to a still scarcely believable one million per cent.

The crisis-wracked country is expected to drag down South America's performance, which will also be hurt by an expected 1.8 per cent shrinkage in Argentina's economy, according to the report.

"Unlike previous years, the slowdown will be general and will affect 21 of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean," said the CEPAL report.

South America is due to perform the worst with expected growth of just 0.2 per cent, compared to 2.9 in Central America and 2.1 in the Caribbean.

While some South American countries are expected to enjoy fairly dynamic growth, such as Peru (3.2 per cent) Colombia (3.1) and Chile (2.8), the continent's biggest economy Brazil is holding others back with weak growth of 0.8 per cent projected.

A fall in the price of commodities - the foundation stone of Latin American economies - and a lack of activity in the internal market have dragged down regional economies, which grew by just 0.9 per cent in 2018.

Further north, Mexico's economy will see modest growth of 1.0 per cent at a time of tension with its northern neighbour, the United States.

AFP