SOUTH AMERICA (South America is predicted to see 2.1% GDP growth for the rest of 2019):

Forecasting the South American construction sector is a difficult activity, bearing in mind that there are more than 10 divergent countries that all have different construction practices and economic challenges. The construction market forecast for each of these countries ebbs and flows on the policies of each Governments economic policies or social needs. Much of the future construction growth in South America will be enhanced by the improving economies and increased government spending on public facilities and infrastructure projects.

The South American Construction / Infrastructure / Commercial Construction markets will experience moderate growth in 2019. Commercial and office related type construction is active throughout South America. Shopping mall(s), apartments, warehouses, water supply / disposal, office developments, housing and light manufacturing facilities have and will continue to be built in major and mid-sized cities in Argentina, Chile, Central America (Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua) and Colombia. Look for this trend to continue in 2019 and beyond.

President Jair Bolsonaro is Brazil’s newly elected President. The construction industry is expected to remain restrained with trending towards a small advance for the balance of 2019.

The Brazilian Government is planning to invest more than $60 billion in new infrastructure / transportation projects in the next two years.  Brazil one of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and Russia) has experienced a terrible decade economically. Construction activity in Brazil has been lackluster over the last three to four years, following significant political turmoil and a continuing business downturn. Brazil is currently experiencing a moderate uptick in its construction sector. Unemployment in 2019 in the Brazilian construction sector is 13% to 17% which is historically very high for Brazil, look for this rate to improve in 2019. Overall industry unemployment is slightly less, ranging between 10.8% and 11.7% – still historically high.

The change in leadership mentioned above will not put a quick fix of Brazil’s economy and construction sector. Brazil’s GDP is forecast to grow in the 1.3% to 1.6% range for the balance of 2019. Inflation in Brazil is projected to be in the 3.9% to 4.3% for the remainder of 2019, a big improvement from a year ago. It would appear that Brazil is set for modest in improvement in 2019 and beyond.

Argentina is experiencing a currency drop that indicates the country is heading into a recession and possible political turmoil going into 2019. Economic activity has fallen in the last six months, high interest rates, and a drop in consumer confidence. These issues and rising inflation has put a damper on new construction projects.

The Venezuela economic / construction state of affairs becomes more and more tenuous as we move further into 2019. The question is: How long can this continue without an uprising? South America’s construction sectors will continue to experience restrained demand for EPC services. Argentina and Venezuela will continue to find 2019 to be a challenging year; they are both in recession. The other major countries, i.e. Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and the Central American nations will all see positive and restrained GDP growth in 2019, ranging between 1.5% to 2.3%, good but not that great. The recent expansion of the Panama Canal will be a big plus for Central American economies and there construction sectors.

2019 Global Construction Costs Yearbook

Compass International's 500+ page publication provides “current” detailed information on construction cost specific to 101 countries worldwide.

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