Latin American exports sink to 70-year low

SANTIAGO:Latin American exports fell 30.9 percent in value in the first quarter of 2009, in the lowest figures for the region since the 1930s, according to a UN-backed study published Tuesday.

Exports would further plummet 25 percent in value in 2009, and by 11 percent in volume compared with the previous year, predicted the study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

"The fall in regional commerce has no equivalent in recent history," the regional study center, which is based in Chile, said in the report.

"The external shock suffered by the region is above that provoked by the Asian crisis (in the 1990s) and the debt crisis (in the 1980s)."

A 29 percent drop in international prices of raw materials, and a generalized drop in external demand from most countries, apart from China, contributed to the fall, the study said.

"Only China has maintained a sustained demand for raw materials, which gave a counterweight to this adverse situation for regional commerce," it added.

Regional mining, oil and manufactured goods sectors were worst hit, while agricultural products were less affected, the study said.