The Inter-American Development Bank has delivered a blunt critique of the new package of multinational trade agreements signed last April in Geneva, charging that they don't meet "either the aspirations or . . . needs" of the Latin American region.
In its annual report, the lending agency said that the Tokyo Round, now in a review-ratification process among 99 participating countries, falls short of providing the trade help needed by developing countries.
The report cited, in particular, "the lack of an appropriate solution to the problem of selected safeguards." Use of such safeguards involves the danger of converting them into another instrument of discrimination against the export of poor countries, the report said.
In general, the report cited "the resurgence of protectionist policies" in the industralized world as among major causes of lackluster performance in the Latin American region.
Economic expansion in Latin America last year was reported to be at an "unsatisfactory" rate for the fourth year in a row, far below the healthy growth period of 1968-74.
The gross domestic product of the 24 nations in the region increased by only 4.3 percent, down a bit from 1977 and well below the 1968-74 average of 8.5 percent. Argentina, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Peru experienced negative growth rates. But Paraguay, Colombia, Honduras, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, and Chile scored the best growth rates: All were 6 percent or better.
According to the report, the Latin American region urgently needs accelerated development because of the rapid increase in population, "as well as the burgeoning aspirations of the masses of the population for participation in the development process and in social progress."
The report blames "the unfavorable, effects of the performance of the world economy" for much of Latin Amerca's current economic problems. In essence, the report suggests that the recession and inflation of the industrialized world have been transmitted to the region. Weak demand in the big countries limited Latin American expansion and produced unfavorable price fluctuations, the report adds.
In a special analysis of nutrition problems in Latin America, the report says that almost 20 million children under 5 years of age in 19 countries are suffering some degree of malnutrition. Of these, nearly one million are suffering from severe malnutrition, especially in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras. The problem is pervasive among adults as well.