MONTEVIDEO – The World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, Uruguay’s Carlos Vegh, said he was optimistic regarding the region’s economic growth in 2019, given that the Latin American countries have shown advances in making structural reforms.
Vegh said in an interview with EFE in Montevideo that he expects the region, for which the World Bank projects almost double the growth for next year than occurred in 2017, to continue advancing in the coming years, pushed by the recovery in the region’s most important economies.
The WB estimates in its latest twice-yearly report that the region will grow this year by 1.2 percent and in 2018 by 2.3 percent.
“I’m optimistic and, as can be seen in the report, we’re projecting for 2018 greater growth than for 2017; that reflects greater trade and greater structural reforms, so I expect that in the October report, when we make the forecast for 2019 we will continue growing,” he said.
The economist, who arrived this past week in Uruguay to participate in the Research Institute for Development, Growth and Economics forum, said that “The countries of the region, in general, are aware (of their objectives), above all the reforms that they’re making ... (with) each country advancing as quickly as it can. Obviously, labor, pensions and educational reforms cannot be made overnight and they require a public debate between civil society and the government.”
Vegh emphasized that reforms such as the tax reform Argentina will approve and the labor reform approved this year in Brazil show that there is positive movement.
He said that in the past 15-20 years “the region has made some extraordinary advances in achieving growth with equity, lowering poverty and improvements to the healthcare system for the neediest people.”
On the other hand, although he acknowledged that the region’s emergence from economic recession in recent years pushed by the recovery of Argentina and Brazil is key, Vegh emphasized that the region has assorted challenges ahead of it.
He also emphasized that the region is one of the weakest in the world in terms of interregional commerce.