Business revs up for growth in 2013.

Author:Gutierrez, Santiago

This year will be a good one for Latin America. In what is the first issue of Latin Trade for 2013, we want to show you what lies behind our optimism from a variety of angles.

Maybe we've been donning our rosy-tinted spectacles. After all, the regions economic growth came to a close on 3.1 percent last year, down from 4.3 percent in 2011.

But estimates from Latin Business Chronicle, the digital news and market intelligence of Latin Trade Group, show that last year's slowdown was far from a disaster for the productive sector. On the contrary, the region's leading non-financial companies recorded a 10 percent average sales growth in 2012, and a quarter of them achieved increases of 20 percent or more (see story on page 40).The biggest increases were recorded by companies involved in commerce, consumer goods, transport and telecommunications. They were able to shrug off the problems of the international economy thanks to a growth in demand from Latin America.

On top of that, leading economists, such as those from the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, reckon that domestic demand will remain strong this year, as shown by labor indicators and growth in bank credit. Both drivers will boost growth of the middle class, which the World Bank has shown is now running neck-and-neck in numbers with the poor. Between 2003 and 2009, the region's middle class grew from 103 million to 152 million.

2013 will also have an additional advantage. The prices of raw materials produced by Latin America are not expected to slump due to economic uncertainty in Europe and elsewhere because Chinese purchases will provide an additional support mechanism (see story on page 60).

Yet another positive factor will be the renewed importance of tourism as a result of growth in...

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