Latin American exports will experience stagnation for the third year in a row in 2014, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reported Thursday.
According to ECLAC, the fall in foreign trade is due to "the global economy's slow recovery and a decline in intraregional trade." Weak demands from some of Latin America's main markets, particularly the European Union, primarily contributed to the poor performance.
ECLAC's annual report "Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Economy 2014" forecasts the region's exports will grow 0.8 percent on average this year, following a rise of 23.5 percent in 2011, 1.6 percent in 2012 and falling 0.2 percent in 2013.
The region's imports will also dip 0.6 percent in 2014, after a growth of 21.7 percent in 2011, and 3 percent in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
ECLAC said lower prices for numerous commodities exported from the region, especially minerals, have weakened the performance of the region's foreign trade.
To reverse the situation, ECLAC urges regional countries to boost their "participation in international value chains," or the production of non-commodity intermediate goods.
Latin American and Caribbean countries generally have minimal participation in the world's three main global value chains: North America, Europe and Asia, explained ECLAC.
Countries should increase investment in infrastructure, innovation, and science and technology, and help small- and medium-sized enterprises "to try something that are more value-added," recommended ECLAC.
They should also boost trade with each other. "In 2013 the percentage of the region's exports going to countries within the same area was 19 percent, whereas the European Union exported 59 percent of its total sales to members of the same group, and Asia-Pacific countries, 50 percent," said the agency.