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People queue to buy basic food and household items outside a supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela. A once-booming oil giant, is caught in the grip of an economic crisis marked by severe shortages of food, medicine and basic goods. (Photo credit: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

By NAN Business Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 21, 2016: The latest data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) shows that several Latin America and Caribbean nations will see zero growth in 2016. Here are the top 6:

1: Venezuela

Venezuela’s economic plight has gotten measurably worse with the UN agency claiming the country will record a minus 8 percent GDP shrinkage this year. With falling oil production and hard currency reserves, the government of Venezuela is forecast to continue to be short of dollars to import food and basic goods. Soaring inflation means that ordinary Venezuelans can’t afford the pricey goods that remain.

2: Suriname

Neighboring Suriname, which is close to Venezuela and also in South America will also see GDP shrinkage this year. The ECLAC is forecasting a minus four percent loss even as experts worry that corruption and falling commodities prices could turn Suriname into the next Venezuela in the region.

3: Brazil

Brazil’s economy is set to shrink by 3.4 percent according to ECLAC even as the country’s Central Bank this week cut its interest rate by 0.25 to reach 14 per cent – the first such action in nearly four years. It also warned that it may make further such cuts if deflation persists amid expected austerity measures.

4: Ecuador

Ecuador will see a GDP shrinkage of 2.5 percent due to a stronger dollar that hit non-oil exports. An appreciation of the U.S. dollar this year has hit the Andean country’s exports of bananas, cocoa, flowers and tuna.

5: Trinidad & Tobago

The twin-island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago is also on track, according to ECLAC, to see a GDP shrinkage of 2.5 percent owing largely to lowered oil prices. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, however, listed a series of construction projects due to come on stream shortly that are aimed at kick starting the economy. He said the proposed initiatives would help pull Trinidad and Tobago out of its grim economic state, resulting in much needed job opportunities.

6: Argentina

Argentina rounds out the grouping with a forecast 1.8 shrinkage this year. The economy has been ravaged by spendthrifts in the last government who’d driven public finances into disarray and then papered over the mess with magical statistics. The government of President Mauricio Macri is in a quandary of how to restore sensible government without inflicting more sacrifice on an already castigated society.

In view of the current economic downturn, ECLAC again affirms that the region needs a progressive structural change with an environmental big push to drive development based on equality and environmental sustainability. Public and private investment policies need to be coordinated across different areas to reshape patterns of production, consumption and energy, based on learning and innovation. This will help move the region towards fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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