Central America’s Economic Outlook According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

By Eddie Galdamez  |  Oct 12th, 2023

IMF Central America Economic Outlook. – The International Monetary Fund expects a 3.8% economic growth for the Central American, Panama, and Dominican Republic region (CAPDR).

The 2023 economic numbers represent an economic deceleration compared to last year when The CAPDR economies increased by 5.4%

In Central America, Panama, once again, will lead the way with a 6.0% projected economic increase. Costa Rica is next with 4.4%, followed by Guatemala with 3.4%, and Nicaragua with a 3.0% projected economic growth.

IMF Central America Economic Outlook
2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
Panama -17.7 15.8 10.8 6.0 4.0
Costa Rica -4.3 7.8 4.3 4.4 3.2
Guatemala -1.8 8.0 4.1 3.4 3.5
Nicaragua -1.8 10.3 3.8 3.0 3.3
Honduras -9.0 12.5 4.0 2.9 3.2
El Salvador -7.9 11.2 2.6 2.2 1.9
**CAPDR -7.2 11.2 5.4 3.8 3.9
Source: IMF **Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic

El Salvador is at the bottom of the Central American projections with a 2.2% estimated economic growth. Second to last is Honduras, with a 2.3% economic outlook.

The IMF’s 2023 economic projection for Central America of 3.8% growth is 0.5% more than the 3.3% expected by the Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The IMF’s economic outlook, along with the World Bank’s and ECLAC’s outlooks, indicate that Panama and Costa Rica will be the top two economies in Central America in 2023.

The three organizations agree that El Salvador will have the lowest economic growth in 2023. The Salvadoran Central Reserve Bank (BCR) foresees a 2.6% economic growth for El Salvador in 2023

In Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic (CAPDR), growth has also softened recently, although less than in Latin American five economies “LA5” (Brazil-Chile-Colombia-Mexico-Peru), as activity in the services sector has remained resilient, supported by still strong remittances. IMF Regional Economic Outlook Report.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the Growth in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic (CAPDR) region will soften further this year and pick up modestly in 2024.

Growth in CAPDR is projected to soften further in 2023–24 amid a weaker external environment as well as severe weather affecting parts of the region, and the outlook remains subject to sizable downside risks, including related to a sharper-than-expected global slowdown, more persistent inflation, renewed financial sector turbulence in advanced economies, and natural disasters. IMF Regional Economic Outlook Report.

Latin America and the Caribbean Economic Outlook

The economy of Latin America and the Caribbean will grow 2.3% this year, 0.4 percentage points more than expected in July, according to forecasts announced in October by the International Monetary Fund.

According to the IMF, which also forecasts 2.3% growth in 2024 for the Latin America and the Caribbean region, the slowdown is mainly due to tighter monetary policies, low growth in advanced economies, and a drop in the price of raw materials.