Providing assistance to the reconstruction of Haiti became part of the agenda
Latin American and Caribbean countries have not escaped the global financial crisis, but have weathered the storm more successfully than in past downturns, due to better macroeconomic management, more efficient structural policies, and a vigorous business sector. However, important challenges lie ahead for the region. These are some of the conclusions reached by the 500 policy makers, business leaders and economists participating at the II International Economic Forum – Latin America and the Caribbean 2010, held today in Paris and co-organized by the OECD Development Centre, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the French Ministry of Economy, Industry and Employment.
Concern about the situation in Haiti and how to support ongoing efforts to reconstruct the country centered many of the discussions. On opening the forum, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría remarked that it is time for a new stage in the region’s development. “Governments must promote an economy based on knowledge, innovation and green growth,” he said, “that will make possible a robust and sustainable increase in living standards.” The OECD Secretary-General lamented the tragedy in Haiti and added that "it is time to build a new Haiti, and we need to support the government in rebuilding the country and building capacity for long-term planning to avoid that a tragedy like this one happens again." Mr. Gurría also announced the launching of a new OECD initiative to foster work on fiscal reform, investment and public services in Latin America.
IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno focused his remarks on Haiti, stressing the importance of providing assistance to the Caribbean nation, hit by a catastrophic earthquake two weeks ago. The IDB is providing emergency assistance to Haiti and is considering a mechanism to further alleviate the country’s remaining debt with the institution. Moreno stressed that the IDB is working with other organizations and donors to provide a substantial flow of grants for the reconstruction and development of the country. Commenting on the place of the region in the global economy, Moreno noted that Latin America and the Caribbean are overcoming the impact of the financial crisis, and placing renewed efforts in addressing climate change and the food crisis through sustainable development.
Foreign Trade Minister Anne-Marie Idrac represented the French Government and stressed in her intervention the enhanced economic and financial links of France with Latin American and Caribbean countries. She also remarked the need to redouble efforts to help Haiti overcome the destruction caused by the recent earthquake.
The Forum focused on finding long-term solutions to Latin America and the Caribbean’s development challenges: the region’s growth in 2010 and how this will affect poverty, inequality and other social indicators; access to credit, liquidity provisions and the implications of stimulus measures; environmental concerns, including the implications for trade and industrial policies; and the role new business models can play in fostering the economy. Several of the participants stressed the importance of providing financial assistance to the reconstruction of Haiti as one of the priorities for the year.
In addition, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno signed a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes a framework for collaborative work on stimulating growth in Latin America through best practices and policies for economic and social development.
The Forum brought together more than 500 participants at Bercy, including government ministers, heads of international organisations, development and investment banks, and high-level representatives from the private sector. It is the largest annual forum on Latin America and the Caribbean taking place in France.