A light inside the tunnel



Robert West, Principal, Trade and Transportation and Economic Business Solutions, Halcrow, Inc. Cambridge, MA, USA



With the US already one year into its recovery, growth is still very weak. The road back to some kind of economic normalcy seems to be passing through a very long tunnel; but looking globally, there are some lights inside the tunnel – and some of the brightest are coming from Latin America. Indeed, Latin America performed better than the industrialized world during this last global recession thanks, in general terms, to sensible fiscal management, strong exports to other emerging markets like China, and no purchases of risky financial instruments. This year should see a pronounced snapback in the economies of the five largest countries in South America, as shown in Table 1 (economic and trade data from IHS Global Insight).

Peru and Colombia never turned negative in terms of real economic growth in 2009, and Brazil had a mild recession much weaker than that in the US. In 2010, now coming to an end, we should see a quick snap-back in most of South America’s major economies, with Brazil and Peru leading the group.

Sea trade

We are generally positive about the trade outlook for most of these major players in South America, especially Brazil where TEU exports in 2010 should grow by almost 8 percent and imports are set to climb by more than 20 percent. Brazil’s
total container trade is three times larger than Peru’s this year; but whereas Brazil’s sea trade is dominated by exports, Peru’s is dominated by imports, as shown in Figures 1 and 2, with forecasts (figures from IHS Global Insight).

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