The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today recalled that the need to improve the competitiveness of the region involves both the private sector and governments, and represents a key “to boost the hemisphere’s development,” he explained at the opening session of the Private Sector Dialogue taking place today at the OAS in the framework of preparations for the Sixth Summit of the Americas.
At the event, titled “Connecting Businesses, Connecting People in the Americas,” the head of the hemispheric institution highlighted the progress achieved in Latin-America and the Caribbean in terms of economic growth that give them a ability to cope with the recent economic crisis. Among the achievements he mentioned the improvement of the trade balance in the region, the rise in commodity prices, a higher quality of economic management and low debt figures.
“The economic outlook for the region is encouraging. Latin America and the Caribbean have been able to effectively navigate through the recent recession and economies were promptly reactive with positive figures in 2010, achieving an economic growth of around 6 percent. The average debt of the countries of the region is 30 per cent of the GDP, making this a dream for many developed countries whose debts are close to or above 100 percent of the GDP, “he said.
In line with the positive figures, Secretary General Insulza noted the need to capitalize on these achievements for the countries of the region to develop a sustainable competitiveness and avoid being left behind in the global market. “If the region does not continue to forge the necessary reforms to have higher levels of competitiveness, we risk being left behind,” he said, and called for “adopting reforms designed to promote development in coexistence with democracy, and within social, economic and environmental balance.”
The OAS leader highlighted that, in order to improve and maintain competitiveness, it is necessary to have adequate investment in infrastructure, advance in the existing bioceanic projects, invest in human capital with emphasis on health, education, research and development, and work in the area of institutional capacity, an issue in which he acknowledged that “we still have serious problems, ranging from the quality of governance and corruption to security issues.”
In assessing the significant contribution of the private sector to the dialogue that the Heads of State and Government of the Hemisphere will hold in Cartagena de Indias April 14-15, the OAS High Representative remarked the optimal juncture in which the Summit will be taking place. “We are at a very positive moment, this is the second Summit that will count on the participation of only democratically elected governments, which is a great achievement; it is a Summit taking place at a time when we have good economic growth; and it is a Summit with good prospects on social issues and poverty,”said Insulza. “I hope that our Presidents, assisted by the private sector and other social actors, can take advantage of this meeting to give a more definitive impetus to growth in the hemisphere,” he concluded.
The opening of the dialogue was also attended by the High Presidential Counselor for Public and Private Management of Colombia, Catherine Crane, who agreed with the notion that the Summit is taking place at an “exceptional moment”, as Latin America and the Caribbean are projected as one of the most dynamic regions in the world. “The continent is posed as an engine, and the region will provide dynamism to the global economy. We face an opportunity to take off together and achieve the levels of development and prosperity we have always been looking for,” she said.
The Colombian high-level official praised the role that the private sector has played in the regional dynamism in recent years and its contributions to future discussions on this issue. “In the current context, it is important to identify the bottlenecks that prevent the region from developing its enormous potential. This is not just talking about the ability of competing within one country, but about the competitiveness of the region as a whole, about how the region gets together to compete with the rest of the world, and how we can unleash the synergies, multiply the complementarities, and discuss together what institutions, regulations, human capital and infrastructure are needed so that this dynamic we’re currently seeing can be translated into more growth, more jobs, more prosperity and more welfare,” she said.
The Private Sector Dialogue is part of the consultation process taking place with various social actors in preparation for the VI Summit of the Americas, with the theme “Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity”. The dialogue seeks to develop practical recommendations that the private sector and/or governments can take to advance the Summit agenda of integration and regional cooperation for development.
A gallery of photos of the event is availablehere.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website atwww.oas.org.