Economic growth in the region, estimated at 4.6% in the first semester of 2005, points to GDP growth of approximately 4% for the year. Although this rate is lower than that recorded in 2004 (5.9%), it remains higher than the average for recent years. These results reflect the favourable international context characterized by the expansion of global GDP and trade, high prices for primary export products, low interest rates, a reduced rate of inflation and relatively low inflationary pressures, although in some countries inflation rates surpassed 2004 levels. Also contributing to the economic growth was the adoption of flexible Exchange rates that fostered an increase in the competitiveness of the region, as well as countries capitalizing on positive economic conditions to strengthen fiscal balances and reduce foreign debt. These changes resulted in a notable reduction in country risk indices, which are approaching historic lows, and a surplus in the current account recorded in the past two years which will likely continue in 2005.