Latin America

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Anguilla (top)

In recent years, GDP has grown at a double-digit pace though the pace is expected to slow as the global economy weakens. Financial services, tourism and construction have been driving forces behind growth but foreign investments in land are also growing .

Argentina (top)

Since 2002, Argentina has had the most growth in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) among Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. The growth is predicted to continue through year 2010 .

Argentina is the second largest country in Latin America and occupies most of the southern portion of the American continent. Its total area is about 1,068,300 square miles (about the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River). Argentina is bordered by five countries - Chile to the east, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, and Brazil and Uruguay to the northeast .

In Argentina, farmers benefit from a favorable climate, fertile soils and the large investments farmers in new technologies and techniques. Cattle ranching has been a main economic base for the residents of the plains (Pampas) for over 200 years. Nearly all of the cattle raised and slaughtered in Argentina are consumed domestically .

Cheap credit drives a boom in consumer spending. Favorable global commodity prices and the emergence of Asia as a key export destination have increased earnings from primary and agro-industrial exports.

Tourism is traditionally a big earner of foreign exchange. It provides employment for approximately 10.1% of the work force and presently accounts for about 8.5% of GDP .

Aruba (top)

Aruba has one of the highest per capita incomes in the Caribbean region. Per capita income has more than doubled in the past two decades, so that Aruba is now one of the richest islands in the Caribbean .

Offshore banking, oil refining and storage are the other mainstays of the economy. Supervision and regulation of the financial sector has been strengthened in line with the recommendations of the recent Offshore Financial Sector assessment. Recent tax reforms have made the economy more investment friendly.

Authorities have agreed to turn the telecommunications company into a private law company and introduce competition in the mobile phone market. This creates opportunity for foreign investment and market expansion.

Tourism is a major earner of income and provides the most employment opportunities. It contributes more than half of GDP and around 80% of non-oil export revenues. This sector continues to need foreign investment for infrastructure purposes .

Aruba is home to the one of the largest desalination plants in the world . The island has no fresh water supplies and every liter has to be imported or is the product of desalination. The plant continuously seeks further foreign investment.

Bahamas (top)

The Bahamas has one of the highest per capita incomes in the western hemisphere.The tourist industry is the heart of the economy, accounting for a third of GDP .

There is no income or corporate tax.The degree of competition is limited and reforms, particularly in the labor market, are needed.The business climate is relatively attractive but seeks further foreign investment to develop the country.

Barbados (top)

Barbados has about 2.9 million barrels of proven reserves and produces small amounts of natural gas. The country plans to expand production to 3,000 barrels per day in the next few years and has begun to employ horizontal-drilling techniques. The island, along with the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica, is party to the San Jose pact under which Mexico and Venezuela supply crude oil and refined products on favorable terms .
Liberalization of the capital market is also expected in order to bolster capital inflows and is part of the Caribbean's effort to create a single market. The international business sector contributes around half of all government revenues from corporate taxes. The authorities hope to boost competitiveness by reducing income tax rates.

Belize (top)

Agriculture is the dominant sector in Belize, accounting for 21% of GDP and employing 30% of the workforce. Coca, citrus, sugar cane, fish, cultured shrimp and fruit are the major products, while bananas, citrus fruits and sugar cane are grown for export. Sugar is the chief crop, accounting for more than one third of exports. Officials hope that citrus production will be a major foreign-exchange earner in the future . This is an opportunity for foreign investment and market expansion.

The tourism industry, which is already a major source of foreign currency, has great potential, though it needs investment and better planning for foreign sources.

Bermuda (top)

Bermuda has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, having successfully exploited its location by providing financial services and luxury tourist facilities. International business drives Bermuda's economic success, with insurance, reinsurance, mutual fund management and administration dominating .

Bermuda is one of the world’s richest countries. The country realizes around 25% of its GDP from international business. There are more than twelve thousand foreign companies .Companies pay no tax on their profits or their investment income, allowing them to build up reserves for future losses more quickly and making it more attractive to foreign investment

Bermuda realizes around 25% of its GDP from international business. There are more than twelve thousand foreign companies. One-third of the workforce is non-Bermudian and that percentage has been rising over time. Manufacturing tends to center on perfumes, flowers and pharmaceuticals .

Tourism accounts for about 14% of GDP with more than 80% of visitors coming from North America. Tourism is expected to show growth of around 8.8% of GDP in 2009 .

Brazil (top)

The country is a member of Mercosur, the trade bloc consisting of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Brazil, the largest country in South America, occupies some two-thirds of the continent's entire Atlantic coast . It is bordered by Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

By 2020, 41.2% of the country's population will be under the age of 25. This is good news for beauty manufacturers as consumers in this age group are far more likely to experiment with new personal care products than their elders. By 2013, Brazil's beauty and personal care market will be worth over US$36 billion .

Between the 1970’s and 1980’s there was a rapid increase in births. With the majority of the Brazilian population currently under age 40, there is an increasing demand for items such as housing, home appliances, home improvements.

Brazil has one of the largest populations in the world with over 194 million people in 2008. This provides a large labor pool. Presently, Brazil's large and relatively skilled population is making it an attractive investment destination, with technology and skills transfer building up its domestic human capital.

Brazil has an abundance of mineral deposits such as bauxite, iron ore, manganese, chrome, lead, zinc, tungsten and nickel. Most importantly, Brazil is the largest producer of high grade iron-ore in the world and it is the country's largest export product, accounting for 5% of the total value of mineral exports. Brazilian company Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) is the world’s largest iron ore exporter and its largest producer.

Brazil has a vibrant agricultural sector, driven by increases in both productivity and in cultivated area. The country presently has 152 million acres under cultivation but the government claims that this can easily be more than doubled. Brazil produces 40% of the sugar traded on world markets and output is increasing by nearly 20% per year. Brazil is also the world's top producer of orange juice and coffee, and ranks second in world production of soy and meat (beef and poultry) and third for fruits and corn. Altogether, agro-business accounts for over a quarter of total GDP .

Investors plan to spend more than US$12 billion over the next five years to erect and expand ethanol plants. The government believes it can increase ethanol production from the annual level of about 18 billion liters today to close to 200 billion liters by 2025. Producers have invested heavily in expanding ethanol capacity.

Brazil's industrial base is one of the largest and most diversified of any emerging economy. The country's big manufacturers include producers of automobiles, consumer electronics, computers and software, and heavy industries. Today, the country is the world's fourth largest carmaker.

Brazil has 12.6 billion barrels of oil, the second largest oil reserves in South America. Proven crude oil reserves have increased significantly following a number of oil discoveries offshore in the Campos Basin. Oil production has also risen steadily in recent years. As a result, Brazil is expected to become an oil exporter in the near future . The government-owned oil company, Petrobras, plans to spend US$39 billion on exploration and production upgrades through 2011.

British Virgin Islands (top)

The country is one of the world's principal offshore financial centers. Financial services are the fastest-growing industry in the country. Together with banking and insurance, financial services account for a significant portion of GDP.

The government has introduced a zero income tax regime.. Other incentives include no capital gains tax; no estate duty; no dividend; no withholding tax; no capital transfer tax and no death duties.

The British Virgin Islands is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It is highly dependent on tourism, which generates about one-third of GDP .

Bolivia (top)

Bolivia is an associate partner of the Mercosur and a member of the Andean Pact. Owing to these arrangements, the country is becoming an increasingly important transport hub.

Increased exploration activity and investment by oil companies have rapidly increased Bolivia's proven oil reserves, which presently amount to 440 million barrels. The Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras holds 41% of the country's proven oil reserves however the company seeks foreign investment . .

Buenos Aires, Argentina has agreed to pay 50% more for Bolivian natural gas and the two countries have signed a deal to triple export volumes. The government has also renegotiated contracts with the major oil companies operating in Bolivia. Foreign oil companies invested US$900 million in 2008 .

In 2005, Congress approved a new Hydrocarbons Law that levies an additional 32% tax on oil and gas production at the wellhead, on top of the existing 18% royalty. The law also calls for the compulsory conversion of existing contracts to the terms of the new law .
Soybeans are a major cash crop, along with wood and sugar. The country seeks further foreign investment to development this market.

Bolivia is the world's largest producer of tin and has deposits of copper, lead, silver, zinc, antimony, wolfram and gold. Government officials also claim that Bolivia possesses the world's largest reserves of lithium. They predict the country will earn large profits as automakers push to develop electric cars that will run on lithium ion batteries. A pilot plant to extract lithium will begin operation in 2010. Another major project to extract iron ore deposits is also underway in south-eastern Bolivia. The site is estimated to hold 40 billion tons of iron ore, the largest untapped source in the world .

Cayman Islands (top)

The Cayman Islands are the largest offshore banking center in the world with 600 banks and deposits worth US$500 billion.

Tourism is the main source of income in the Cayman Islands. The sector accounts for about 70% of all economic activity and employs one-third of the workforce. There are more than 100,000 visitors in a typical year. A majority of tourist arrivals (close to 90%) are passenger visitors from cruise ships. The Cayman Islands' currency is often stronger than the US dollar, a factor which periodically impacts on the tourism sector.

There are no taxes in the Cayman Islands: government revenue comes from customs duties, stamp duty and annual fees levied on corporations. More than 80% of the economy is service-based, principally financial services and tourism. The number of registered companies is approaching 60,000. The figure represents one-and-a-half companies per person. The island also has more than 600 banks and trust companies. About 90% of all food and consumer goods must be imported.

Chile (top)

Chile currently holds a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) with various countries, such as Canada, Mexico, South Korea, the United States, as well as with the European Union. The FTA with the US took effect in 2004, and will lead to completely duty free bilateral trade within 12 years. Chile has one of the most open trade regimes in the world. The uniform applied tariff rate for virtually all goods is 6%.
The country is a member of APEC, which is the premier Asia-Pacific economic forum with the primary goal to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Chile has the highest per capita private final consumption expenditure in South America. By 2010, the GDP of Chile will be US$9,589.

Chile’s economy depends heavily on its mining sector which accounts for 40% of the country’s export income. Chile’s Codelco, is the world’s number one copper producer and Chuquicamata, second largest copper mining complex in the world, is expected to produce 565,000 tons of copper in 2010. (Reuters)

Chile occupies the greater part of South America's Pacific coastline, with Argentina to its east over the Andes mountains, and Peru and Bolivia to the north. This facilitates the ease of trade and transportation.

Policy makers have also been trying to channel more capital into non-traditional areas such as seafood and wine. Wine exporters are gradually becoming more competitive while the country's sheep farmers plan a big expansion to capture a larger share of foreign markets.

Colombia (top)

When the Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States enters into force, Colombia will immediately eliminate most of its tariffs on U.S. exports, with all remaining tariffs phased out over defined time periods. U.S. firms will have better access to Colombia's services sector than other WTO Members have under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This FTA is sometimes referred to as a Trade Promotion Agreement with the two countries.

Colombia, mining, mainly coal and oil, is one of the country's most important sources of exports. Colombia completed the privatization of its coal sector in 2004 with the closing of Minercol, the former state-owned coal company. The largest coal producer in the country is the Carbones del Cerrejon consortium, composed of Anglo-American, BHP Billiton, and Glencore. It is likely that Colombia’s coal production will continue to increase in coming years, as exploration and profitable developments continue throughout the north and interior of the country. Oil is the major legal export commodity of Colombia. The country has 1.45 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. These deposits represent the fifth-largest in South America . An ambitious investment program in existing facilities is underway.
The banking system has undergone significant privatization since the last financial crisis in 1999. Only one state-owned bank remains in operation. Corporate income taxes have been cut and other small taxes eliminated.
Structural reforms continue to advance as authorities strengthen the financial system. More consolidation through mergers and acquisition is expected.

Colombia forms the geographical link between Central and South America and creating ease of trade and transportation. Meeting the Isthmus of Panama in the west, it is bordered on the south by Ecuador and Peru, and on the east by Venezuela and Brazil, and has coastlines on both the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Costa Rica (top)

In 2005, the US Congress approved establishment of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). CAFTA confers benefits providing disciplines for the non-discriminatory treatment of investors, dispute resolution, protection of intellectual property rights and other areas.

Oil is supplied primarily by Mexico and Venezuela under the auspices of the San Jose Pact and the Caracas Energy Accord.

Costa Rica is very open to foreign investment and a favorite choice for a number of high-tech companies. A comprehensive tax reform has been under consideration. Negotiations on a free-trade agreement with China are underway and could lead to further market expansion and foreign investment.

Agriculture employs nearly half the work force. Approximately 60% of the coffee crop is regarded as “top quality”, though only 6% of world production meets this definition. The country is the world's second largest exporter of bananas. There has been some progress in agricultural diversification and farm exports have risen. Agricultural production has shifted from rice, beans, and yellow corn for domestic consumption to the highly successful production for export of pineapples, melons, strawberries and winter vegetables .

Tourism is the country's largest industry, employing more than 13% of the work force. Eco-tourism accounts for nearly 40% of the industry's revenues in a typical year .

Costa Rica exports electricity to Nicaragua and has the potential to become a major electricity exporter if plans for new generating plants and a regional distribution grid are realized. Other major industries include the production of electronic components, food processing, textiles and apparel, construction materials, cement and fertilizer.

Dominica (top)

The move to a value added tax has been accompanied by the elimination of the consumption tax, the sales tax, the hotel occupancy tax and other minor levies. On the revenue side, the tax base has been broadened. The social security system is being reformed and a hike in contribution rates has been imposed.

Authorities are working to reduce the cost of doing business are focused on easing infrastructure constraints and streamlining business procedures. The government has also made several moves to bolster the efficiency of the financial system by restructuring state banks and strengthening the supervision of credit unions. These moves should help to boost productivity and encourage competition.

Most industrial enterprises are geared to the processing of agricultural raw materials: rum manufacture is a major activity. There are also fruit canning plants, tobacco processing sheds and plants making soap and other light products.

Agriculture generally accounts for almost 30% of GDP and employs more than two-fifths of the labour force. The main agricultural product is bananas although limes, oranges, grapefruit, copra and bay oil are also produced for export. Dominica exports 25-35 tonnes of bananas per year .

Dominican Republic (top)

In 2005, the US Congress approved the establishment of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) which includes the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic is one of the main centers of clothing “assembly for export”, or maquiladoras, and depends mainly on the US market for sales of both clothing and textiles. Clothing producers have suffered greatly from Asian competition and termination of the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA).

The island is the US's seventh largest export market in the Western Hemisphere and a major destination for US foreign direct investments.The government has recently begun to implement tax reforms aimed at simplifying excise taxes and reducing tax evasion. New fiscal policies, including the planned sale of government-owned assets equivalent to 6% of GDP, should help to reduce public debt. The government also intends to raise certain taxes and to improve collection efforts .

Ecuador (top)

The country is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which secures an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers and a fair return on capital to those investing in the petroleum industry.

The state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol, hopes to invest US$12.5 billion in 2007-2011 to step up exploration, production and boost refinery capacity. Ecuador also has 345 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas reserves but lacks much of the infrastructure to develop this energy source .

Foreign investment has grown throughout most of this decade and the current account is in surplus. The government has announced its intention to renegotiate all contracts with foreign oil producers. The goal is to increase the state’s share of production in private projects to 50% from the current 20%.

Ecuador has 3.8 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves with a significant portion remains virtually untapped in the Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tabbococha fields.

El Salvador (top)

It is Central America's largest producer and consumer of geothermal energy. The country has two main geothermal facilities. Thermal generation accounts for 42% of generated electricity while hydropower provides 26%. It is participating in the Puebla-Panama project. The goal of this initiative is to unify the electricity grids of Central American countries to reduce costs and the frequency of power disruptions, as well as to attract private sector investment.

The government pursues an export-led strategy which includes trade agreements with the USA, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Mexico, Panama and Colombia. Textiles and apparel, shoes, and processed foods are among the industries that are benefiting.

Agriculture accounts for around 11% of GDP. Cash crops include sugar, cotton and especially coffee. Industry makes up over 30% of GDP. Leading industries include textiles, food processing, beverages, petroleum, chemicals, fertiliser and furniture manufacture. Growth of maquiladoras, which are firms engaged in the assembly of products, mainly textiles and apparel, for re-export, has helped to offset the decline in farming. The establishment of free-trade zones has encouraged the development of several industries.

Economic reforms have allowed the government to reduce public debt. The goal is to cut this debt to 30% of GDP by 2013 .

Guadeloupe (top)

The country has an industrial free port at Jarry and a fair-sized ship repair business. This creates ease of transportation for companies looking to do business.

Agriculture contributes 15% of GDP and employs 15% of the work force. The industrial sector employs 20% of the workforce and contributes 9% of GDP. Services, which are dominated by the tourist sector, account for 68% of GDP .

Guatemala (top)

Both the US Congress and the Guatemalan government ratified the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2005 and Guatemala has concluded a free-trade agreement with Mexico.

The country is participating in the Puebla-Panama project. The goal of this initiative is to unify the electricity grids of Central America to reduce costs and the frequency of power disruptions, as well as to attract private sector investment for the development of new power plants.

The government launched a major reorganization of the banking system and strengthened financial supervision. The new laws have led to significant improvements in the health of the banking sector. This makes the country makes attractive for foreign investment.

The industrial sector is dominated by small-scale manufacturing geared mainly to serve the domestic economy. Clothing, textiles, pharmaceuticals and construction materials are the main industries.

Guatemala is Central America's largest oil producer, producing almost 16,000 barrels per day. The country has 83 million barrels of proven oil reserves located primarily in the country's northern jungles. Efforts are also underway to explore and exploit potential reserves near Lake Izabal, Guatemala's largest lake .

The agricultural sector accounts for two-thirds of exports, and employs half of the work force. The country's main exports are coffee, sugar, bananas, cardamom and beef, but coffee is by far the most important .

International reserves have risen to record levels, boosted by strong remittances and capital inflows. The government is known for its sound fiscal management with public debt being one of the lowest in the region. Guatemala is reportedly negotiating a trade agreement with the Andean Community .

Guyana (top)

Officials are anxious to diversify the economy. Guyana has much potential to develop the tourist sector but seeks foreign investment for improvements. Brazil has recently committed US$3 million to complete a bridge between the two countries. This could help to boost trade if it is accompanied by other improvements in transport .

Guyana consists of mainly Amazon rainforest area, which is being deteriorated daily and needs international support to cease its destruction.

Guyana's economy depends heavily on sugar and rice production, gold and bauxite mining, and logging. Foreign investors are hoping to move in to grow sugar cane for ethanol.

Policy makers are working to restructure the state-owned sugar and bauxite companies, and strengthen the regulatory framework of the domestic banking system. To improve the quality and efficiency of public spending and safeguard debt sustainability, the authorities plan to establish a five-year rolling Public Sector Investment Program.

Haiti (top)

The key objective of the current government is to stabilize the economy and gain support of the international community. In support of this effort, the US government eased regulation on the import of Haitian textiles in 2008 which makes the country more attractive to foreign investment and markets.

Haiti has deposits of copper, silver, bauxite, gold, marble, lignite and asphalt, but only bauxite has ever been mined. There is very little foreign investment in the country at present.

There is very little foreign investment in the country at present. There was a significant investment of US$40 million Hilton hotel being built near the airport. The country wants to expand the tourism sector, therefore seeks further investments such as these .

The economy relies overwhelmingly on the agricultural sector, which employs 70% of the workforce. Agriculture accounts for only about 30% of GDP. Coffee is grown for export along with sugar and mangos .

Honduras (top)

The Central American Free-Trade Agreement (CAFTA) between the USA and Honduras took effect in 2006. The country also has free-trade agreements with Panama, Central America, Colombia and Taiwan. In 2008, the country joined Petrocaribe and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, two programs organized by Venezuela.

Honduras is one of the main centers of clothing “assembly for export”, or maquiladoras. By volume, it is the world's third-largest exporter of clothes to the USA and its economy is especially reliant on textiles and clothing production, which goes mostly to the USA.

Agriculture is the largest sector of the economy. In a typical year, farming accounts for about one-quarter of GDP and up to 60-70% of export revenues. Bananas and coffee are the major exports.

Structural reforms to improve the efficiency of the public sector and the stability of the financial system have been approved. The intention is to provide stronger institutional support for economic growth. A national competitiveness plan places top priority on the development of agribusiness, forestry, and tourism, which are all areas with growth potential. An income tax surcharge was introduced in 2008.

The country's tiny tourism sector has potential but is underdeveloped. However, more than US$100 million is being spent to develop hotels, luxury villas and golf course near Tela, Honduras. The new resorts will target wealthy visitors who are willing to pay premium prices. Foreign investment is contiuously being sought out.

Mexico (top)

Mexico is a member of NAFTA, which is the North American Free Trade Agreement together with the United States and Canada. It is the world's largest free trade area, which now links 444 million people producing $17 trillion worth of goods and services.

The country is also a member of APEC, which is the premier Asia-Pacific economic forum with the primary goal to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Between 2008 and 2010, Mexico is predicted to be the wealthiest country in Latin America in basic GDP terms due to its expanding middle class, increased access to consumer credit and sales of consumer goods and services. By 2010 Mexico will have the highest GDP per capita Latin America with US$10,159. By 2020, the Mexican population will rise to 57 million . This makes Mexico very attractive to foreign investment. Following a wave of reforms, Mexico's banking system is solid and profitable while the regulatory framework is close to best practice.

Mexico has the third-largest amount of conventional crude oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere. Pemex does not have sufficient funds available for exploration and investment, owing to high financial burdens placed upon the company by the Mexican government, therefore they are seeking foreign investment. Proven reserves have increasingly been dropping and the country could become a net importer in just a few years, which open the opportunity for foreign markets to expand in this sector.

Mexico shares a border almost the length of 2,000 with the United States of America, which facilitates ease of trade and transportation between the two countries. It also has coastlines on both the Atlantic and the Pacific and embraces a wide range of territorial types.

Netherlands Antilles (top)

The banking sector has demonstrated continued resilience. Profitability, provisioning and balance sheets in the banking sector have improved. A new agreement with the Netherlands on dividend taxation is expected to improve the international financial industry.

Tourism, petroleum trans-shipment and offshore finance are the mainstays of the economy, which depends heavily on overseas markets. The main industries are petroleum refining in Curaçao, petroleum trans-shipment facilities in Curaçao and Bonaire and light manufacturing in Curaçao.

The islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure. Pension payments will rise from 2009 due to the ageing population. The retirement age will also be raised to 65 .

Private investment has improved which has been helped by the extension of two airports and several hotel projects that will boost construction activity. Although the country continuously seeks foreign investment.


The country has a trade agreement called the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) with the USA. The DR-CAFTA gives the country better access to the US market.

Agriculture accounts for one-third of GDP and employs 42% of the workforce. Major exports include coffee, cotton, sugar and bananas. Food processing, coffee roasting, textiles, timber and handicrafts are other important activities. Under the Central American Free Trade Agreement, policy makers hope that export niches will emerge for peanuts, rum, cigars and cheese .

Fossil fuels account for around 80% of country’s electricity generation, with hydropower and other renewable sources, mainly geothermal, which accounts for 7.6%. The government plans to boost investment in the electricity industry while reducing distribution losses and improving the regulatory framework .

The government has introduced a number of fiscal reforms to support its medium-term plans. These moves have substantially improved public finances and make it more attractive to foreign investment and market expansion.

Services account for 47% of GDP . Tourism has emerged as one of the country’s most dynamic sectors with the number of visitors growing significantly every year. The country is continuously seeking foreign investment in assist in the development of this sector.

Panama (top)

Recent free-trade agreements are aimed at luring foreign investors. Negotiations have been successfully concluded with Taiwan, El Salvador, the USA and Costa Rica. They are intended to bring in foreign investors who have a regional focus, encouraging them to establish operations in Panama in order to make use of the country's transportation, financial and communications infrastructure. The investment climate is superior to that in most Latin American countries. There are no limitations on the repatriation of profits or capital transfers. The current government has promised to impose a flat tax of 10%-20% on businesses. The move would simplify the tax regime and attract more foreign investors .

Exports of domestically-produced goods have increased, thanks to higher sales of products such as flour and fish oil, shrimp larvae, coffee and sugar. Domestic crops include rice, maize, potatoes, beans and beef. The fishing industry is another major source of foreign exchange revenues, as Panama is the world's third biggest shrimp exporter .

Panama is a financial and communications hub that sits at the crossroads of five international fiber-optic networks and hosts 110 international banks. The service sector accounts for nearly 80% of GDP. Services include the Panama Canal, container port activities, shipping, ship registry, insurance, wholesaling and distribution out of the Colon Free Zone, and government activities, which represents about 14% of GDP.
Tourism generates US$1-2 billion per year and has been growing rapidly. The government offers tax incentives to develop tourist facilities and projects .
The country is participating in the Puebla-Panama project. The goal of this initiative is to unify Central American electricity grids to reduce costs and the frequency of power disruptions, as well as to attract private sector investment for the development of new power plants. Panama is the largest energy consumer in Central America. With no proven oil, natural gas or coal reserves, the country is required to import all of its hydrocarbon needs .

Paraguay (top)

The country is a member of Mercosur, the trade bloc consisting of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Paraguay presently has one of the strongest fiscal positions of any economy in Latin America and one of the lowest levels of public debt.

Agricultural activities represent at least one-quarter of all economic activity and account for almost all exports. Soy makes up 75% of agricultural exports and makes Paraguay the world's fourth largest exporter of soybeans .

The country has vast hydroelectric resources, including the world's largest hydroelectric generation facility, which is built and operated jointly with Brazil (Itaipú Dam).

Peru (top)

The country is a member of APEC, which is the premier Asia-Pacific economic forum with the primary goal to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

The United States and Peru signed the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), which resulted in significant liberalization of trade in goods and services between the United States and Peru. Under the PTPA, Peru immediately eliminated most of its tariffs on U.S. exports, with all remaining tariffs phased out over defined time periods. The ratification of this free-trade agreement with the USA should help to bolster competitiveness.

Mining already provides more than half of all exports and accounts for around 30% of total tax revenues. Gerdau of Brazil plans to invest US$1.4 billion to boost production of its steel facility, which is mainly for export. Another Brazilian firm is spending US$500 million to expand zinc output. Development of five Chinese mining projects is proceeding despite the weaker global economy. In addition, foreign investors plan to spend nearly US$3 billion developing hydroelectric facilities. The country has vast mineral potential, with deposits of copper, silver, zinc, gold, iron ore, phosphorus and manganese .

Manufacturing is widely diversified, with rubber, vehicle assembly, engineering, food processing and chemicals being the most prominent. The government has signalled that it intends to promote textiles and woolen products, particularly for fine wool from alpacas, llamas and vicuña.

Peru's agricultural sector employs about 40% of the workforce. Most farming is for subsistence but the sector is also an important earner of foreign exchange and continuously seeking foreign investment.

The government has adopted measures to lower distortionary taxes and exemptions and to improve the quality of public spending. Tariffs were also lowered marginally. The country has an open and transparent investment regime. A one-stop window for trade transactions is now operational.

Tourism employs 6.8% of the work force and its share in GDP is approximately 7.7%. To expand this sector, the country seeks foreign investment for items such as infrastructure.

St. Kitts (top)

Nevis's economy is based on tourism and offshore financial services, while St Kitts's economy is larger and more diversified. Services account for 70% of GDP and depend mainly on tourism. Tourism is not fully developed but has considerable potential. It is typically one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy .

Agriculture contributes just 4% of GDP and is spread around the coastal areas. Bananas, copra and cotton are the main export products but sugar cane is the dominant product. The authorities hope to boost production of agricultural crops, livestock and fisheries as part of its overall diversification program .

Banking reformation has taken place on St Kitts, therefore making it an attractive place for foreign investment and removing it from the OECD's list of non-cooperative states.

St. Lucia (top)

Tourism accounts for nearly three-quarters of the country’s exports. Plans exist to increase the stock of hotel rooms by about 30%, or 1,100 new units. The country attracts more than 200,000 visitors in most years . The industry has much potential with forests, sandy beaches, minerals (pumice), mineral springs and geothermal sources. This sector is continuously seeking foreign investment to realize its tourism potential.

St. Lucia has been able to attract some foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries. The fact that the manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area is of great interest to foreign investors looking to penetrate the market.

Trinidad and Tobago (top)

Within the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago has become a major financial center and a source of capital. The authorities have embarked on an ambitious effort to modernize the legal, regulatory and supervisory frameworks governing the financial sector, with a view to reducing vulnerabilities and promoting Port-of-Spain as a financial center. Additionally, in 2007, the corporate income tax was cut to 25% .

Growth averaged 9% in 2002-2007. Trinidad and Tobago now has one of the highest per capita incomes in Latin America. The government hopes to use its energy resources to reach the status of a developed country by 2020. Currently, natural resources provide almost 40% of government income .

Trinidad and Tobago is the largest producer of oil and gas in the Caribbean. Crude oil reserves, at an estimated 728 million barrels, will be exhausted in less than two decades unless new reserves are found, therefore the country is seeking foreign investment to help realize this exploration .

Trinidad and Tobago has received foreign direct investment of more than US$6 billion and these inflows are expected to accelerate over the next few years. A series of steps to promote exports including the liberalization of trade and the foreign exchange market have been introduced with modest success. Sugar, citrus fruits and copra being grown for export, while rice, coconuts, yams and bananas are produced for the domestic market.

Suriname (top)

Suriname is a member of CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) common external tariff and approved the CARICOM Single Market and Economy Treaty.
To strengthen the financial system, a new banking supervision law was passed and an anti-money laundering law was implemented.

The government intends to spend heavily on new roads, railways and low-cost housing. These investments are much needed and should contribute to an improved business environment. Officials are also working to promote diversification of the economy. Officials plan to introduce a VAT regime, a move which should reduce the volatility of government revenues. The government reached agreement with private investors to build six industrial plants valued at US$7.4 billion. The projects include urea ammonium nitrate plants, aluminum smelters, a petrochemical complex, and an iron and steel plant .

The government’s policy stance has become more expansionary. The central government's overall deficit has widened, owing to a substantial increase in capital expenditure and a drop in domestic fuel taxes. Monetary policy also became more accommodative.

Agriculture makes up 13% of GDP, industry accounts for 22% and services contribute the remainder. Agriculture is viable only along the coastal regions where the terrain is more accessible. Products range from sugar and banana plantations to rice, which is the staple crop, and vegetables. Further inland, timber and forestry are found. In the high sierras, balata is extracted from trees . Suriname has an abundance of other natural resources including timber, hydropower potential, fish, shrimp, iron ore, as well as small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum and gold.

The country's main industries include bauxite, lumbering, food processing and commercial fishing. The economy is dominated by the bauxite industry, which accounts for around 15% of GDP and more than 70% of export earnings in recent years. Alcoa and BHP Billiton have invested US$150 million in two new bauxite mines which began operation in 2006 .

Suriname has immense and largely unrealized hydroelectric potential in its upland jungle areas, as well as some oil resources offshore . The country is seeking foreign investment to reach its exploration potential.

Uruguay (top)

The country has an agreement for trade and investment with the US. The agreement could be a precursor for a full-fledged free-trade deal however this is still under discussion .

A free trade agreement with Mexico has been implemented and further trade reform measures are under negotiation, including reductions in tariffs on capital goods for equipment and telecommunications, information technology and agricultural inputs from 6-9% to 2%, effective through 2011 . Additionally, the authorities will continue to phase out a number of specific import duties on textiles, foodstuffs and chemical products.

The government has followed a broad policy known as “neo-liberalism”. This approach was distinguished by modest efforts to privatize state-owned enterprises and the pursuit of free trade with the US.

Natural gas is likely to play a growing role in the future. The government wants this energy source to make up 30% of total usage. The most recent development was the successful opening of the first phase of the Southern Cross pipeline that cost between US$160 million and US$170 million. The pipeline will be capable of carrying up to five million cubic meters per day .

Venezuela (top)

Venezuela is a member of Mercosur, the trade bloc consisting of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

It is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which secures an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers and a fair return on capital to those investing in the petroleum industry.

The petroleum sector dominates Venezuela's mixed economy, accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of exports, and more than half of government revenues. Venezuela contains some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world .

Venezuela has 99.4 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, which is the largest in South America. Due to the maturity of many oil fields and their declining productivity, the state-owned oil company wants to boost its spending to increase production at existing oil wells, as well as to develop new non-conventional extra heavy crude oil and natural gas resources .

Venezuela's birth rate is among the highest in South America, after Bolivia, Paraguay and French Guyana. Venezuela is also among the most urbanized countries in Latin America, which makes it attractive to foreign penetration.

Euromonitor International