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GDP Growth of Most Economies to Remain More or Less Stable or Accelerate
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This research delves into the macroeconomic outlook for Central American countries, with respect to political environment, GDP growth, and demographics. Countries analyzed as part this research include Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The study period for this research is 2014 to 2022, with estimates for 2018, and forecasts for 2019 to 2022. Political unrest and instability are challenges across most of these economies, with, for example, the President of Honduras sworn in January 2018 for a second term amid protests. Similarly, in Nicaragua, there were violent clashes in 2018 following protests against government reforms. Costa Rica has been struggling in the recent years to get fiscal reforms passed, with the newly elected President facing the important task of securing approvals for a fiscal reform package. Some of the salient, proposed fiscal reforms include the replacement of a sales tax with a value-added tax (VAT), and a ceiling on public sector employee wages. In 2019, Belize could potentially hold a referendum regarding territorial dispute with Guatemala, with the latter having conducted a referendum in 2018. With regard to GDP growth, growth is expected to remain more or less stable or accelerate over the forecast period for most of these economies. Belize, for example, saw a rebound in GDP growth in 2017 following negative growth in 2016, with growth expected to gain further momentum over the forecast period, especially supported by the tourism sector. Panama is expected to be the fastest growing country amongst these set of countries, with a forecast growth rate of 5.6% until 2022, specifically supported by higher construction activities. Honduras, however, is expected to see a dip in growth between 2017 and 2018 on account of factors, such as higher oil prices and restraints stemming from US immigration policy changes. Should a fiscal reform package be passed in Costa Rica, GDP growth would be lesser than projected, with current forecasts hovering at about 3.4%. The pace of population of growth is expected to decline across countries, with the working age population share to, however, increase across all the countries. The trend of increasing working age population stands in direct contrast to the declining trend seen across the developed world. A growing working age population should grant companies the benefit of choosing from a larger labour pool. Costa Rica is expected to be the only countries that will see its working age population share contract over the forecast period.
Key Issues Addressed
Author: Neha Anna Thomas
Central American and Caribbean Countries Economic Tracker, H2 2019
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