growth rises as key Latin economies revitalize
Florida exports rose 4.5% to $14.9 billion during the first half of
2000, fueled at least in part by double digit increases to key Latin
American trading partners.
rise is in sharp contrast to the 4% decline in exports recorded in
the face of economic woes throughout Latin America in the same period
last year. Observers agree that many of these countries are on the
rebound and that's good news for South Florida exporters.
been seeing a gradual recovery," said Manny Mencia, vice president
of international trade for Enterprise Florida. "During the second
half, you'll see the recovery accelerating."
said the "new open economies are more resilient. They seem to
be able to recover more quickly than in previous years."
continues to be a strong trading partner as it emerges from last year's
recession and the impact of its currency devaluation. Exports to Brazil
during the first half of the year grew by more than 12% to nearly
$2.9 billion and overall trade with Brazil grew by 17%.
Brazilian economy is expected to grow by 3.9% this year, according
to Alicia Diaz, vice president of StratInfo, international trade consultants.
has recovered very nicely," she said. "This is important
to Florida because Brazil is Florida's main trading partner."
accounts for nearly 20% of the exports that flow through South Florida.
went through a very difficult crisis," Mr. Mencia said. He said
he expects the country's economy to grow by 3.5% "with only about
a 6% inflation rate, which is remarkable.
recovery will continue to gather momentum. There's strong confidence
in the private sector of the Brazilian economy."
is also making a dramatic recovery from last year's recession, when
the country's GDP, or gross domestic product, was falling by 1.1%.
The Chilean economy is now growing at 5.7% and South Florida exports
to Chile are up nearly 21% to $561.8 million during the first half
of the year, according to Ms. Diaz.
Mencia said Chile is "rapidly recovering from the recession"
and that "the future is excellent."
Rica has also been a shining star for South Florida trade. Exports
to this Central American country grew by almost 12% during the first
half of 2000 to $740 million, Ms. Diaz said.
important boost to the Costa Rican economy was the opening of an Intel
Assembly plant there last year. Intel ships components to its Costa
Rican facility where the computer parts are assembled, then shipped
back to the US.
has been excellent for the Costa Rican economy," said Ms. Diaz.
The Intel plant has also been a boon for the region since most of
Intel's shipments to and from Costa Rica go through here.
to the Dominican Republic, South Florida's second most important trading
partner, grew by almost 4% to $1.1 billion during the first half of
expect the Dominican economy to continue its upward momentum now that
the Caribbean Basin Initiative has been signed into law. The initiative
lowers tariffs on many products, including textiles, imported from
this region. This should help boost the Dominican economy since many
US companies ship fabrics to the Dominican Republic where the fabrics
are assembled into clothing, then shipped back.
law takes effect Oct. 1.
say the law will allow the region to compete more effectively with
similar operations in Mexico, which has enjoyed lower tariffs thanks
to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
expect the Dominican Republic to perform tremendously," Mr. Mencia
said, adding that the country may see 7% or 8% growth this year.
its slow economic recovery, Argentina remains one of South Florida's
important trading partners. Exports to Argentina have increased nearly
5% over the first half of last year to $908 million.
is not doing that well," Ms. Diaz said. "The economy is
Mencia said that in Argentina the "recovery has been disappointing"
and that high interest rates have been "squeezing the economy."
said "inflation has remained under control" and "the
recovery will be in full bloom by 2001."
the overall economic picture has improved for Latin America, some
countries are still experiencing economic doldrums that are reflected
in decreased exports.
still see pockets that I expect will continue to find the road difficult
for the rest of 2000," Mr. Mencia said.
and Venezuela are among the countries that are still struggling to
recover from the economic turmoil of last year.
to Colombia, which has been rocked by violence and political unrest,
are down 9% to $786.6 million during the first half of this year.
Last year South Florida exports to Colombia totaled $867 million in
the same period.
Colombia may still see a turnaround. Mr. Mencia said he expects the
GDP, which was negative last year, to grow by about 2.5% this year.
said the nation is at the beginning of a "painful recovery period.
should be one of the leaders in the hemisphere," Mr. Mencia said,
"but its instability has prevented that."
to Venezuela dropped 12% to $1.1 billion during the first half, but
experts say Venezuela may be on the mend due to the recent hike in
going through a political crisis and economic difficulties,"
Ms. Diaz said. "The economy in Venezuela lacks direction."
Ms. Diaz said, "there will be economic growth thanks to the bonanza
in oil prices."
Mencia said he expects the Venezuelan economy to grow about 3% this
still ranks as an important export market for this area despite recent
declines. In the first half of the year, only Brazil and the Dominican
Republic surpassed Venezuela in the amount spent on goods imported
from South Florida.
Andean region is the area of most concern," said Mr. Mencia,
citing problems in Peru and Ecuador.
is going through its worst economic crisis," he said. He said
the country is likely to see negative growth this year.
weak infrastructure, he said, is as an obstacle to economic progress
in that country.