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Central America struggling for growth

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

With the exception of Panama, the economies of Central America are still struggling to emerge from the 2009 international crisis, according to the most recent estimates of 2011 growth, published this month by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America.

While estimates for the region are far from alarming, they are lower than the 4.7 percent average predicated for Latin America as a whole.

Guatemala and Nicaragua are forecast to achieve 4 percent growth, followed by Costa Rica (3.2 percent), Honduras (3 percent), and El Salvador (2.5 percent). For its part, Panama’s economy will grow by 8.5 percent, the highest of any country in the hemisphere.

In addition, the regional forecast is considerably more optimistic than the one for the Caribbean, estimated at only 1.9 percent.

Central American growth to a considerable extent depends on the state of the economy of the United States, where persistent debt problems affect the region's main export sectors, including agriculture, textiles and tourism.

The region also has important economic relations with Europe, which is struggling to control crises in Greece, Portugal and Ireland.