Mixed results: competitiveness in the region
Competitiveness in the region needs work, according to the 2013-14 index, published last month by the World Economic Forum.
Costa Rica moved up three places in the ranking since last year, while Panama stayed in the same respectable position.
Each of the other countries of the region is in the bottom half of the list of 148 countries.
In Latin America, Chile remains the most competitive economy, in 34th place overall.
Panama, which ranks second - 40th place worldwide - wins approval for its achievements in infrastructure and education, while being criticized for high levels of corruption and low levels of judicial security.
Costa Rica, in 54th place, gets points for having an open economy and a high-quality education system.
Negative factors include a poor transportation infrastructure and wasteful government spending.
The report goes downhill from there.
Guatemala in 86th position, is open to trade and has a sound banking system.
But these virtues are offset by the prevalence of corruption and crime, as well as poor education.
Much the same can be said of El Salvador in 97th place and Nicaragua in 99th, which are praised for improvements in their innovation capacity, but nothing else.
The less said the better of Honduras, which slipped 21 places in the ranking to number 111, between Bangladesh and Senegal.
Latin America as a whole needs to achieve higher productivity levels, including urgent actions to improve institutions, the quality of infrastructure, and skills training, the report said.