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News Release

Latin American Leaders Set Out Strategies for Economic Resilience

Lucy Jay-Kennedy, Senior Media Manager, Public Affairs, +1 917 209 9483, +50765398327, lucy.jaykennedy@weforum.org

  • Investing in infrastructure and reducing bureaucracy will increase competitiveness
  • Countries must invest more in education, including technical training
  • Learn more about the World Economic Forum on Latin America at http://wef.ch/la14

Panama City, Panama 2 April 2014 – Political, business and academic leaders gathered for the ninth annual World Economic Forum in Latin America set out strategies for the region to move beyond dependence on commodity exports and face the challenges of a rapidly changing global economy. “We have to both generate wealth and the conditions for the population to access that wealth. The pie must be bigger and it must be divided more equally,” Frank De Lima, Minister of Economy and Finance of Panama, said.

More engineers and more skilled workers will help the region to diversify their economies. “To make our region more productive we have to change our education system,” Brian J. Smith, President, Latin America Group, Coca-Cola Company, Mexico, said. Governments must provide universal and effective basic education, but companies must get involved too. “It is just not a question of schooling, it is a question of skills,” Ricardo Hausmann, Director, Center for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, USA, said.

Companies should collaborate with governments, which can compensate them to offer the practical training that modern jobs require. The involvement of parents can help to make education reform a reality, especially if effective government communication convinces them of the need for reform. Reforms in labour laws will attract skilled and talented immigrants, especially from European countries with poor job markets.

Weak infrastructure and onerous bureaucracy is a problem across the region. Large companies often must devote resources to fight these obstacles instead of investing in innovation, while smaller companies often cannot overcome them. Protectionism must be fought, since it leads to inefficiency and isolation, but domestic policies must also adapt to new global competition. “Free trade and economic stability do not by themselves guarantee success,” Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Secretary of Economy of Mexico, said.

Education, energy, tax, and electricity reforms are crucial to modernizing economies. Better infrastructure will spur growth, encourage investment, and create jobs. “We need to have logistical reforms so we are ready for free trade,” Kátia Abreu, President, Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock, Brazil, said.

The programme of the World Economic Forum on Latin America focuses on the region’s efforts to maintain economic growth, boost economic diversification, increase productivity, fuel competitiveness, and enhance trade and invest in human capital. Participants are helping to determine how to better address challenges in education, health, infrastructure and technology and will contribute to shaping the region’s economic, social and political agenda.

The co-chairs of the meeting are: Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC), Stanley Motta, President, Copa Holdings, Panama; Arif M. Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive, The Abraaj Group, United Arab Emirates; Frits D. van Paasschen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, USA; Jorge Quijano, Chief Executive Officer, Panama Canal Authority, Panama; and Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive Officer, WPP, United Kingdom.

Public figures participating in the meeting include Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica; José Miguel Insulza, Secretary-General, Organization of American States (OAS), Washington DC; Laurent Salvador Lamothe, Prime Minister of Haiti; Ricardo Martinelli, President of Panama; Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington DC; and Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico.

Notes to Editors

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The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations (www.weforum.org).

 


The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations (www.weforum.org).