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Regional growth expectations are double those of South America

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Central America is expected to grow 4 percent in 2015, more than double the expectation for South America, according to the latest study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Panama will be the strongest Central American economy, with expected growth of 7 percent, followed by Nicaragua at 5 percent and Guatemala at 4 percent.

Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador trail, each with around 3 percent.

Among Panama's most promising sectors is mining.

A gold, silver, copper and molybdenum project led by Minera Panama, a subsidiary of Canada's Inmet, is set to begin production in 2018.

The mine will increase the participation of the sector in gross domestic product to 7 percent, more than triple its present level.

For its part, Honduras sees a 4 percent growth in tourism this year compared with 2013, while its port authority announced an investment of $67 million to improve Puerto Cortés.

Nicaragua for its part has made improvements in several sectors, including tourism, exports and remittances.

Nicaragua last month received its first sustainable tourism certification by global tourism firm Thomas Cook, while the number of cruise ship arrivals to the country grew by one third in the first two months of the 2014-2015 season, compared with the same period last year.

Remittances reached $928 million from January to October this year, a 6 percent increase compared with the same period in 2013.

Among Costa Rica's strengths is the port of Limon, which is expected early next year to approve new installations, aimed at making it a regional logistics hub.

Limon is the only port on the region's Caribbean with a 16-meter depth, which can receive new-generation large vessels from Asia.

Medical tourism is a focus for Guatemala, which recently completed a trade accord with the European Free Trade Association.

Remittances to Guatemala grew 8 percent from January to November this year, compared with the same period last year.

While El Salvador has one of the lowest growth rates, it showed improvement in exports to Europe, which reached $200 million this year, a 5 percent increase compared with last year.