Remarks by Angel Gurría,
Paris, 27 May 2021
Prime Minister Mottley, President Duque, Vice- President Peña, dear Mauricio Claver-Carone, dear Bertrand Walckenaer, dear friends:
Welcome to the 13th International Economic Forum on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the theme of which is “the role of the region in the emerging global order: from crisis to opportunity?” I would like to thank our co-organisers, the IDB and AFD, for preparing this important forum. This edition is taking place within the context of La Semaine de l’Amérique Latine et des Caraïbes, which starts today in France, and which we at the OECD are very proud to celebrate, especially given that on Tuesday we welcomed Costa Rica as the 38th Member of the Organisation.
LAC is the emerging and developing region that has been the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. In economic terms, the region saw its GDP fall by an average of 7.7% in 2020. In human terms, the number of lives lost has just passed the one million mark. This is all the more worrying given that almost 60% of workers in the region are informal and that before the crisis 40% of workers had no social safety net to fall back on.
And if that were not enough, the pandemic hit the region when it was already facing what we call the four development traps: low productivity, social vulnerability, institutional weakness and environmental unsustainability.
LAC countries must strengthen their cooperation and unite to promote an inclusive and sustainable recovery. All countries are having to face the challenges of access to vaccines, public debt, and the taxation of the digital economy. Doing so through cooperation will make it easier. We must push for a renewed multilateralism in the region, based on the exchange of best practices.
An effective response to the crisis could encourage formality, promote the region's productive diversification and increase its integration into value chains. This is also an opportunity to build a regional strategy to face the challenge of climate change. In this sense, the transition to a green economy could generate 15 million jobs by 2030 in the region.
Many of these challenges are collective and global by nature. That is why a new social contract will be needed between governments, citizens and other stakeholders. A new regional, Ibero-American and international cooperation with a focus on Development in Transition that goes beyond income, that is centred on well-being, and that generates room for dialogue and systematic learning between countries. We have the opportunity to rethink LAC's participation in the global agenda, and foster strategic alliances to give voice to Latin American interests.
The OECD, alongside ECLAC, the European Union, SEGIB, and other key partners, such as the IDB and AFD, are committed to helping you achieve a robust, inclusive and sustainable recovery. In fact, the 2021 edition of our Latin American Economic Outlook will be dedicated to this theme.
After more than a decade, this forum has become an "institution" to foster dialogue and improve the well-being of Latin Americans. It has been an honour for me to have been a part of it.
Today we are at a decisive moment. We have before us an opportunity to promote a stronger and more united Latin American, to coordinate a robust, sustainable and inclusive recovery in the region.
You have the full support of the OECD. I wish you a very interesting and fruitful forum.