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IMF sees continued strong outlook for Western Hemisphere

Apr '07
The past year has been another one of strong economic performance for the Western Hemisphere, notwithstanding somewhat slower growth in the United States in recent quarters, according to the IMF's most recent Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere.

Latin America and the Caribbean grew vigorously in 2006 and, although some easing is expected, this region should continue growing at a relatively high rate in 2007, said Mr. Anoop Singh, Director of the IMF's Western Hemisphere Department, at a press conference presenting the report.

"The 2004-06 period is now on record as the most vigorous period of growth for the region in Latin America and the Caribbean since the 1970s, reflecting both stronger policies and the favorable external environment," Mr. Singh said. Poverty indicators have also improved further, he added, although more efforts are needed, as governments everywhere recognize.

Mr. Singh said the main challenges for the region remain raising and sustaining long-term growth, and sharing the benefits more equitably. "To substantially raise living standards over the next two decades, Latin America must grow faster on a sustainable basis," he said. At the same time, policies needed to remain vigilant to ensure that the safety margins built up in recent years-particularly in the fiscal area-do not erode.

The Regional Economic Outlook 's main findings for Latin America and the Caribbean are as follows:
2006 was a year of strong economic performance for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Output grew at an average rate of 5½ percent, almost one percentage point higher than in 2005, and slightly above world growth.

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