UPDATE 2-UN lowers 2013 Latam growth forecast on Brazil, Mexico
* Powerhouses Brazil, Mexico to grow less than forecast-UN
* UN calls on commodities-dependent Latam to diversify
SANTIAGO, July 24 (Reuters) - The economies of Latin America and the Caribbean are seen expanding 3 percent in 2013, more slowly than initially forecast as a gloomier global economy restrains exports and domestic demand, a United Nations body said on Wednesday. The lower view is due to slower-than-previously forecast growth in regional powerhouses Brazil and Mexico, as well as easing expansions in small-but-robust Chile, Panama and Peru, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said. The region is expected to expand 3.0 percent this year, down from a prior official view for 3.5 percent growth and on par with 3.0 percent growth in 2012, the Chile-based commission added. The U.N. body warned that commodities-exporting Latin America is highly reliant on demand from China and Europe, as well as domestic consumption. "The actual outlook highlights problems in the sustainability of growth in the majority of the region's economies, and justifies considering the need to amplify and diversify," said Alicia Barcena, the ECLAC's executive secretary. Soy, oil and copper have boosted the resource-rich region, helping trigger a spending boom in much of its expanding economies but raising questions about the sustainability of growth. The region has already seen economic expansion ease from an ebullient 5.6 percent in 2010 and 4.3 percent in 2011. Still, Latin America and the Caribbean's projected 3.0 percent economic expansion for this year puts it well above the global growth forecast of 2.3 percent.
REGIONAL GIANTS TO GROW LESS THAN FORECAST Latin America's largest economy, Brazil, is seen clocking 2.5 percent growth this year, the ECLAC said, lowering its previous forecast for 3.0 percent expansion. Growth is still seen picking up from the paltry 0.9 percent clocked last year, however. Growth in Mexico is projected at 2.8 percent, below the former view of 3.5 percent growth and slower than the 3.9 percent registered in 2012. The ECLAC kept its forecast for soy-exporting Argentina's economic growth unchanged at 3.5 percent, which would be a significant pick-up from 1.9 percent growth last year. Latin America's economic expansion has also been buoyed by smaller, dynamic economies in Chile, Colombia, Panama and Peru. But these too are mostly seen easing their brisk pace of growth. Colombia's economy will grow 4.0 percent this year, as it did last year, the ECLAC projected, lowering its forecast from 4.5 percent. Copper-dependent Chile is expected to grow 4.6 percent in 2013, under a previous forecast for 5.0 percent growth and far below last year's 5.6 percent rate. Neighboring Peru, an economic star in the region, will grow 5.9 percent in 2013, a smidgen lower than the 6.0 percent projected earlier and the 6.3 percent of last year. Venezuela's economy is seen growing 1 percent, slowing sharply from 2012's 5.6 percent rate.