After the crisis: with the global crisis retreating, Latin America and the Caribbean must focus on steps to boost growth to improve regional competitiveness.



Although financial turbulence still rocks the global economy, Latin America is seen as one of the more stable regions. The crisis has showcased Latin America's economic resilience, according to the leader of one of region's biggest multilateral lending agencies. Yet it has exposed the region's weaknesses when competing in the increasingly complex world economy.

"If you go back 20 years, 25 years--if the same world crisis had occurred, we would be crying now," said Enrique Garcia, president and CEO of the Corporacion Andina de Fomento. "We would be in a deep recession."

Garcia was the keynote speaker at Latin Trade's BRAVO Forum in Cancun, Mexico, held during the annnal meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank. Some 120 financiers, bankers and executives attended the forum, where Garcia offered an unvarnished assessment of the region.

Garcia said he was heartened by the good news. But he said the region needed to improve its economic performance.

"You cannot be happy with rates of growth of 4 percent," Garcia said. "To fulfill the expectations of society in terms of employment and better quality of life, you need sustained good growth." That formula means the economies must grow at more than 6 percent annually.

"The question is, and I want you to reflect on this, how is Latin America today in relative terms compared to what is was say 30 years ago?" Garcia said. "And here the news is not very good."

Thirty years ago, Latin America represented about 35 percent of the per capita income of the industrialized world, while today it represents 25 percent, he said. In 1980, the area generated 15 percent of the world's total exports, a percentage that has fallen to 6 percent, he said. Latin America's share of direct foreign investment also declined. Latin America and the Caribbean are further vulnerable to global ups and downs...

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