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UN commission lowers 2019 growth forecast for LatAm to 0.5%

The United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or ECLAC, said it expects economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean to slow to 0.5% in 2019 from 0.9% last year.

The new forecast for this year is down from a previous estimate of 1.3%, according to Reuters.

"The region is facing an external context of greater uncertainty and growing complexity: less momentum from world economic activity and global trade; greater volatility and financial fragility; questioning of the multilateral system and an increase in geopolitical tensions," Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC's executive secretary, said in a statement.

The expected slowdown in 2019 will be generalized and affect 21 of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. On average, South America is expected to grow 0.2%, Central America 2.9% and the Caribbean 2.1%, the organization said.

ECLAC sees the region's two largest economies, Brazil and Mexico, expanding 0.8% and 1.0%, respectively, this year. Argentina, meanwhile, is expected to contract 1.8% and Venezuela is expected to shrink 23.0%.

Mexico's economy narrowly escaped a technical recession in the second quarter as recently published preliminary data showed GDP growing 0.1% in real terms from the first quarter. Mexico's GDP shrank 0.2% in the first three months of 2019.

In its report, the commission urged Latin American and Caribbean countries to advance "toward broader and more homogeneous macro-prudential regulation to encompass not only the formal banking sector but also all financial agents — including the shadow banking system."