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U.N. panel forecasts 1.1 pct. growth in LatAm

Santiago, Dec 2 (EFE).- Economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean this year will come in at a modest 1.1 percent, but is set to rebound to 2.2 percent in 2015, the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or ECLAC, said Tuesday.

The U.N. panel said in a preliminary evaluation that 2014 has seen the weakest median growth in the region since 2009, predicting a better performance for next year as part of “a slow and uneven recovery of the global economy.”

This year the region’s performance shows major disparities among countries and sub-regions with 3.7 percent expansion of gross domestic product in Central America, Haiti and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, 1.9 percent growth in English-speaking Caribbean nations, and a 0.7 percent increase in South America.

The median budget deficit will grow from 2.4 percent of GDP in 2013 to 2.7 percent this year, while falling in the Caribbean sub-region from 4.1 percent of GDP last year to 3.9 percent in 2014.

ECLAC highlighted the fact that the public debt of countries in the region remains manageable, at around 32 percent of GDP.

Inflation for the 12 months ending Oct. 31 was 9.4 percent.

Urban unemployment decreased from 6.2 percent in 2013 to 6 percent this year despite weak job creation in the context of slow economic growth.

Countries with the highest growth rates this year are Panama and the Dominican Republic, both at 6 percent, Bolivia, 5.2 percent; and Colombia, 4.8 percent.

At the bottom of the list came Venezuela with a 3 percent decrease in GDP and Argentina, with a 0.2 percent decrease.

Looking toward 2015, ECLAC expects median GDP growth of 2.2 percent amid a slow, moderate recovery in the global economy, lower prices for raw materials, weak demand outside the region and increasing financial uncertainties.

In 2015 the best performers will be Panama, with expected growth of 7 percent, Bolivia, 5.5 percent; followed by Peru, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, all projected to grow 5 percent.