The United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or ECLAC, expects GDP in the region to grow 1.3% on average in 2017, slightly higher than its previous 1.2% estimate.
For 2018, the group forecasts a 2.2% average GDP growth for the region, ECLAC said in an Dec. 14 statement.
The regional growth figure for 2018 is partly due to greater dynamism in Brazil, whose economy is projected to grow 2%, compared with 0.9% in 2017. ECLAC also expects countries that already are growing moderately to observe faster expansion rates, including Chile (2.8% from 1.5%), Colombia (2.6% from 1.8%) and Peru (3.5% from 2.5%).
Meanwhile, Panama is expected to have the highest growth rate next year, at 5.5%, followed by the Dominican Republic at 5.1% and Nicaragua at 5.0%. The economies of Cuba and Ecuador will advance 1% and 1.3%, respectively, while Venezuela's GDP will narrow by 5.5%. The rest of the region's economies should grow by between 2% and 4%.
By subregion, South American economies are expected to grow 2%, compared with the 0.8% recorded in 2017. Central America, meanwhile, should have a growth rate of 3.6%, above the 3.3% seen in 2017. The Caribbean is forecast has growth at 1.5% on average in 2018, a boost from virtually no growth in 2017.
According to ECLAC, the projections are supported by a more favorable international setting in the past few years. The UN arm projects the global economy to grow in 2018 at a rate close to that in 2017, or around 3%, with emerging countries posting greater dynamism than developed ones.
However, challenges and risk persist in the international sphere, including uncertainty in the monetary policies of certain central banks, the trend toward greater financial deregulation and geopolitical conflicts such as those rooting from increased protectionism.
Growth acceleration in the region will also be buoyed by domestic demand, driven by private consumption and with investment making a greater contribution.