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Slowdown for Latin economies

April 23, 2008|Marla Dickerson | Times Staff Writer

MEXICO CITY — Latin America's economic growth will slow this year, weighed down by a struggling U.S. economy and rising food prices, according to figures released Tuesday by the United Nation's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The region's gross domestic product will expand by an estimated 4.7% this year, down from 5.7% in 2007.

Mexico is projected to be Latin America's laggard, with expected GDP growth of 2.7% in 2008, down from 3.3% in 2007. Mexico is highly dependent on the U.S., which buys 80% of its exports.

While Latin America is still enjoying its longest sustained growth spurt in 40 years, the U.N. is concerned that skyrocketing food and fuel prices will undo some of the gains of the last few years. It projects that the number of the region's poor will rise this year by more than 10 million, a 1.9% increase, because of soaring global prices for staples such as beans, rice and corn.

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