The uneven global recovery is challenging Latin America and the Caribbean, but the region will emerge stronger from the crisis with high growth potential if it continues deepening integration into the global economy. This was one of the main conclusions reached by leaders and experts participating in the III International Economic Forum Latin America & the Caribbean 2011, organized for the third consecutive year by the OECD Development Centre, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and France’s Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry.
The 2010-20 period could become the Latin American Decade if countries consolidate the advances made in the last decade toward efficient social policies, prudent fiscal management, greater productivity and innovation, better regulatory frameworks to attract long-term investments and improving the quality and delivery of public services such as education and health.
French Minister of Economy and Finance Christine Lagarde said France’s Presidency of the G20 would address issues of key importance to Latin America."One of the most important objectives going forward has to be improving the functioning of commodity markets and commodity prices. Agricultural product markets need more transparency and better information."
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría agreed. “While the commodity price boom has helped Latin American countries, volatile commodity prices are a source of uncertainty over the long-term. Latin America has to use this good moment to consolidate its strengths, implement structural reform, reduce debt and invest in physical and human infrastructure. This is essential to the future sustainability of social and economic progress.”
Participants agreed on the great potential of the continent as a result of stable democracies, growing economies and a young population. The consolidation of an emerging middle class and the strengthening of domestic demand were singled out as important factors in the coming years. Nevertheless, the region's middle classes were still characterized as too often vulnerable and susceptible to falling back into poverty if adequate safety nets are not put in place.
Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno reminded participants that Latin America's future growth would require a stronger focus on human capital. "Modernising education and investing in science and technology - issues that developed countries have always talked about - are Latin American issues today. This development agenda is critical if we are to make this the Decade of Latin America."
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said "Latin America is a new locomotive of the world economy.” He added: “When European countries, the United States and Japan look our way, we want them to see Latin America as a good partner."
The speech of the OECD Secretary general is available here.
Photos from the conference are available here.