Imports of goods from Latin America and the Caribbean grew at a year-on-year rate of 32% in value in 2021, the largest increase since 2010, when they grew by almost the same magnitude after the global financial crisis, ECLAC reported on Wednesday.
At the same time, volumes imported by the region increased 20% in 2021, in line with the expansion of domestic activity in the region (both consumption and investment) after the collapse of 2020.
Meanwhile, import prices also showed growth in 2021, reaching 12 percent.
As a result of the foregoing, the balance in the region’s goods account, although it remained in surplus in 2021, was reduced by half a percentage point to 1.3% of GDP.
Latin American imports
Although the favorable evolution of commodity prices in 2021 translated into an estimated increase in the terms of trade of around 5% in the region, there are differences at the subregional level.
The terms of trade fell 5% in the Caribbean (excluding Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago) and 1% in Central America, as a consequence, in part, of the great weight that energy has in the import basket of these countries.
On the contrary, the group of countries whose terms of trade rose the most is precisely that of hydrocarbon exporters (15 percent).
For 2022, ECLAC expects a slight drop in the prices of basic products, of around 3.2 percent.
Metals and minerals would fall the most (8.4% compared to the average level of 2021).
This could be explained by the economic slowdown, especially in China and its construction sector, which has shown problems.
In the case of energy products and agricultural products, their prices are projected to remain fairly stable, with little variation compared to the average level of 2021 (0.3% and -0.4%, respectively).
Specifically, a recovery in the supply of oil, natural gas and coal is expected, which in turn is accompanied by higher demand as a result of the continued normalization of global transport and production.