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UPDATE 1-Global demand to boost Latam economic growth in 2014 -UN

Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 | 10:02 AM ET

SANTIAGO, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Growth in the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to gather pace next year, as a more favorable global outlook boosts demand for its exports, the United Nations economic body for Latin America said.

The region is expected to grow by 3.2 percent in 2014, picking up from this year's forecast for 2.6 percent growth, the Santiago-based Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said in a report on Wednesday.

Consumer spending will also continue to spur Latin American economies, though at a softer rate than in the past. ECLAC said the global economic situation heralded some opportunities for the region in 2014.

"Opportunities include increased international trade and the possibility of harnessing currency depreciations to ensure sustained changes in relative prices," executive secretary Alicia Barcena said in a statement.

But a volatile global economy, more expensive external financing and a deterioration of current accounts are latent risks, ECLAC warned.

This year's growth estimate was downwardly revised from July's estimate for 3.0 percent due to lower-than-expected external demand, international financial volatility and a slowdown in consumption.

Brazil and Mexico, Latin America's two biggest economies, which lagged the regional average in 2013, are seen picking up next year.

Regional powerhouse Brazil is seen clocking 2.6 percent economic growth in 2014, a small lift from this year's estimated 2.4 percent expansion.

The U.N. body said "favorable effects" of some policies implemented this year, including lower inflation and greater infrastructure and energy investment, would benefit the Brazilian economy in 2014.

Latin America's second largest economy, Mexico, is forecast to notch 3.5 percent economic growth next year, well up from a forecast 1.3 percent in 2013, as demand rises.

By contrast, Argentina's economic growth is seen easing to 2.6 percent from this year's estimated 4.5 percent.

The ECLAC stressed the grains-dependent country is facing a more fragile external scenario, a larger current account deficit and limited access to credit.

For a breakdown of the ECLAC's growth forecasts, see: