Key Emerging Markets
Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Chile
Oil, Mining, and Agriculture
Latin America is the region of the Americas where Romance languages are primarily spoken. Latin America comprises of over 20 nations geographically located North, Central and South America and the Caribbean; territories where Spanish Portuguese and French languages prevail. Most countries achieved independence by 1925, and now exist and relatively young post-colonial countries. Latin America accounts for around 8.42% of the global population, and is home to approximately 652 million inhabitants, possessing a lower population density than Asia, Europe and Africa.
Stability of Region
For more than a century, Latin America has experienced a damaging combination of high inequality, poor economic performance and weak political institutions, all of which greatly hinder its development. During much of the 20th century, economic activity concentrated on large plantations and capital-intensive manufacturing activities that created limited formal employment. Most workers have low-paid jobs that did not provide access to social benefits. Legislations and enforcement remain poor as the countries struggle with drug trafficking, immense violence, gang activities, and the widespread availability of firearms. Large income gaps between the poor and the wealthy have been one of the drivers of violence, one of the reasons that Latin America is the region with the highest homicide rates in the world.
The region has always been highly dependent on commodities as the main engine of growth, making it vulnerable to commodity price shocks and fluctuations. Despite recent efforts to promote the growth of non-commodity exports, which have resulted in a slightly more diversified export structure, Latin America remains – on average – as exposed to commodities-related risk as four decades ago. Economic diversification remains high on the agenda for Latin American governments as there is a need to move on from an over-reliance on agriculture and commodities exports
Latin America has been one of the hardest-hit regions by the pandemic in emerging markets. After a 7% contraction in 2020, GDP growth projection for 2021 is forecasted at 5.9%, mainly due to improved performance from commodities exports as well as resiliency in the service sector. The recovery will be uneven and protracted, with Colombia, Chile and Peru in the lead. Vaccinations will be key to reduce the need for lockdowns and pave the way for a more sustained economic recovery. Weak economic resilience following years of low growth and structural issues prior to the pandemic will also weigh on the region's recovery and undermine countries' ability to absorb future economic shocks. The reason for low productivity is low and inefficient investment. Investment growth averaged about 0.5% in the last decade. The long-term average growth forecast in the region is estimated at 2.5% while GDP levels are only expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.