The International Monetary Fund is forecasting that the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean will maintain this year the same overall 0.3 percent negative growth seen in 2015.

Alejandro Werner is the IMF's chief economist for Latin America. He says it will be the first time the region has seen two consecutive years of economic contraction since the external debt crisis of 1982-83, which gave rise to the so-called lost decade.

Werner said Friday the negative outlook is based on economic difficulties in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela, while most other countries in the region should post moderate growth.

He said falling commodities prices have resulted in some $200 billion in losses for export earnings in Latin America's seven leading economies.

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