The economy in Latin America, our region of operations, faced many challenges in 2016. Many countries suffered from adverse weather and others from internal political struggles that in turn caused an economic downturn. The Brazilian, Argentinian and Venezuelan economies continued to perform poorly with the short-term outlook not being positive. In the Pacific Alliance made up of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, only the latter had a strong economic performance due to healthy private consumption and strong external demand. The economic performance of Central America was solid, as it benefited from the recovery of the U.S. economy.
Despite the economic hardships faced in many countries, LAAD achieved record operational results, including disbursement and net income for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. Disbursements for the fiscal year reached US$236 million, which is 22% above the previous fiscal year. These disbursements were distributed among 266 new projects in 15 different countries. The projects financed by LAAD in 2016 created over 9,600 new jobs and US$194 million per year in foreign currency for the region.
Projects involving bananas led the way with 16% of total disbursements during the year. Soybeans and coffee followed with 12% each and cattle with 8%. The four products represented 47% of total disbursements. The remaining percentage was constituted by various other products. As a result, LAAD’s agribusiness loan portfolio grew by 15.6% on a year-to-year basis, reaching almost US$657 million at the end of Fiscal Year 2016.