UN body projects uneven trade recovery for LatAm

Latin America will see a 25 percent rise in the value of goods exports for 2021, after a drop of 10 percent in 2020, a UN regional commission said Wednesday.

The projected increase was due mainly to higher prices for basic products such as minerals, hydrocarbons and agro-industrial products, rather than greater volume, said a report by the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Imports too would rise by about 32 percent in value, it added.

The ECLAC said exports of services have not recovered from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, representing a “significant” weakness for trade expansion.

“Specifically, the regional dependence on tourism is much greater than the global average, which has meant that the uncertainty surrounding the re-opening of this sector negatively affects the prospects of various economies, especially those in the Caribbean,” it said.

ECLAC said the situation should prompt reflection about deepening regional economic integration.

“Moving towards an integrated regional market is indispensable, not only for generating efficient scales of production and promoting processes of productive and export diversification, but also for achieving greater autonomy in strategic sectors,” it said.

The commission pointed to several areas of potential concern for global trade, including an uneven pace of vaccination, new virus variants, inflationary pressures and trade tensions, as well as risks in China’s real estate sector, disruptions in supply chains and increased freight costs.

“It is calculated that the average global cost of maritime container shipping has risen by more than 660 percent from June 2019 to date,” it said.