MEXICO CITY – Mexico, Latin America’s second-largest economy after Brazil, registered a recession in the first two quarters of the year and zero growth in the third, according to revised official data released Monday.
The downward revision confirmed the economy’s weak performance under leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is struggling to deliver on his promise to kick-start growth in his first year in office.
The economy contracted by 0.1 percent in each of the first two quarters and stagnated in the third, according to the revised figures from the national statistics institute, INEGI.
Preliminary figures had said the economy contracted 0.2 percent in the first quarter, then grew 0.1 percent in the second — later revised to zero, before being revised down again — and 0.1 percent again in the third.
In news that will again put the government on the defensive, the new revision confirms the economy fell into recession in the first half of the year, defined as two or more consecutive quarters of contraction.
Year-on-year, the economy contracted 0.2 percent from the third quarter of 2018 to the third quarter of 2019.
Lopez Obrador took office in December 2018 promising to deliver economic growth of 2 percent for 2019 and an average of 4 percent across his six-year term.
But he has clashed with the business community on a number of key issues, notably by canceling construction of a new $13 billion airport for Mexico City that was one-third complete and replacing it with a rival project.
Investor confidence has also taken a hit from the grim financial outlook at state oil company Pemex, Mexico’s largest company.
Pemex owes more than $100 billion in debt, making it one of the world’s most indebted companies.
Lopez Obrador’s government has plowed nearly $10 billion in rescue funds into the firm, but with few visible results so far.
Adding to economic uncertainty for Mexico, the United States and Canada have yet to ratify the updated North American trade deal signed last year, the USMCA.
Mexico, which already ratified the deal, sends 80 percent of its exports to the United States and depends heavily on trade with its giant northern neighbor.