The Latin American Economic Outlook crossed the Atlantic again, this time to be presented in the United States. After presentation to the Department of State and to US Congress, the report was the object of a seminar organised by the Organization of American States (OAS) on 6 December 2007.
In the opening remarks, both the OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurría, and the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, agreed on the importance of the relationship, highlighted by the Latin American Economic Outlook, between fiscal policy and democratic legitimacy in the region. Angel Gurría and Javier Santiso, Acting Director of the OECD Development Centre spoke in depth on each of the four chapters of the report: fiscal policy and legitimacy, pensions, telecommunications and the impact of China and India on the Latin American economy. Mr. Insulza also stated that the report is a “positive look at the recent years and future possibilities of Latin America “and that “it deals with very relevant topics for our countries”.
After the presentation of the report by the Secretary General of the OAS and the OECD, a high-level panel commented on some of the report’s most relevant issues. The President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno, pointed out the huge amount of work that still remains to be done by Latin American countries in order to increase tax revenue as a share of GDP. Pamela Cox, Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean at the World Bank, indicated that the vicious circle of low fiscal legitimacy negatively affects public revenue, preventing governments from making the necessary investments to reduce social inequality.
Peter Hakim, from the Inter-American Dialogue, agreed on the importance of fiscal reforms, but questioned the strict economic views on the topic. Finally, Professor Francis Fukuyama stressed the utility and relevance of the study produced by the OECD and emphasised that, in many Latin American countries, fiscal disfunctionality undermines democratic legitimacy: “poverty can be overcome through economic growth, but inequalities cannot be overcome if no specific policies are addressed to them (…) it is necessary to combine growth, fiscal policy and the social agenda”, he stated.
The Latin American Economic Outlook concluded its first American tour in Miami, with a presentation organised by the Council of the Americas on 7 December.