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Latin American and Caribbean Exports Fell 24% in 2009 Due to Crisis

The signs of economic recovery during the last quarter of 2009 portend greater regional trade this year.

7 January 2010 | Press Release

(7 January 2010) The value of total exports from Latin America and the Caribbean in 2009 fell 24% with regard to the previous year due to the global crisis, according to new estimates released by ECLAC.

According to the study International Trade in Latin America and the Caribbean 2009: Crisis and Recovery, the value of imports also decreased 25%. Although both exports and imports diminished significantly, the drop is milder than that experienced during the first semester of 2009 (-31% and -29%, respectively), implying a better outlook for 2010.

The report updates the ECLAC study Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Economy 2008 - 2009 published last August and overviews the recent development of the region's foreign trade by country and region of origin and destination, per groups of products and in terms of value and volume.

The 24% contraction in the value of the region's exports represents a combined 15% drop in value and 9% in volume.

"This simultaneous decrease in price and volume is unprecedented in recent history. The last similar situation took place in 1937," states the document.

The economic recovery in the last quarter of 2009 is due, among other reasons, to the partial rise in the price of several commodities, such as copper, zinc, oil, wheat and soya, and the strong demand from China as of the second quarter of last year.

The report asserts that although the fall in exports was generalized in 2009, there were significant differences between subregions and countries. For example, while exports diminished 42% in Venezuela and 32% in Andean countries as a whole, they decreased 29% in the Caribbean, 22% in Mexico and Chile, and only 6% in Central America (excluding Mexico).

The drop in imports in 2009 is similar to the one during the foreign debt crisis in 1982 and also varies significantly between countries and subregions: -35% in Caribbean nations, -32% in Chile, -22% in Mexico and -26% in South America.

In terms of sectors, mining and oil exports fared the worst, with an average fall of -42.3% (January-September 2009), while manufactured products dropped 25.4% and agricultural and livestock exports decreased 18.4%.

The report International Trade in Latin America and the Caribbean 2009: Crisis and Recovery is available on the ECLAC website.

For more information, contact ECLAC's Information Services. Email: dpisantiago@cepal.org; telephones: (56-2) 210-2380/2149.

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