Global Latinas in search of a second wind.

Author:Casanova, Lourdes

Over the past decades, Global Latinas have survived and frequently thrived against multiple challenges ranging from hyperinflation to major currency devaluations and stagnant growth. However, they need to now look for a second wind since we are, once again, entering turbulent times for emerging markets.

The Inter-American Development Bank is forecasting a decline of about 1.4 percent in exports, caused mainly by the fall in commodity prices. Economic growth forecasts are being downgraded and indicate that the region will grow at around 2.3 percent in 2015.

The good news is that according to a study published by CAF, Latin American multinationals still invested $350 billion outside their home countries in 2013, mainly within the region: Brazil, Mexico and Chile, but also in Europe and the U.S.

With this mixed data in mind, are we back to the pre-crisis times of 1997, when first Asia and Russia, and then Brazil and Argentina, suffered the half-lost decade? Today is a different world because of three reasons.

First, the U.S. is recovering from the global financial crisis. This is excellent news for neighboring economies such as Mexico and Central America. While Latin American exports to all regions fell, it increased three percent to the U.S.

Second, the "Global South" is asserting its power in the financial world. Last July, after their summit in Fortaleza, the BRICS countries launched the New Development Bank. If things become rough, the region could expect help not only from the North, but also from the South.

And finally, Latin American companies learned during the '90s to compete first at home, and then move abroad. While Brazilian companies like Natura and Petrobras have grown mainly in South America, Mexican companies such as Grupo Bimbo and America Movil with its subsidiary TracFone, have expanded globally including in the U.S. Many of them are truly Global Latinas, such as Brazil's AmBev, Braskem, Havaianas, Odebrecht and Mexico's Cemex and Mexichem. The knowledge acquired from

competing and thriving both at home and...

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