Economics and finance experts said Latin American must address structural reforms as part of the essential process to consolidate as an economic power and look after the Asian market.
At an event in Madrid for the launching of “The Oxford Handbook of Latin American Political Economy”, the experts also underlined the need to ensure institutional stability in the region to continue advancing along the path of progress.
“Although not all the region is on a positive path, certain countries for over a decade have been involved in serious well executed quality reforms” said Javier Santiso editor of the book and member of the Business School ESADE.
“In 2002 Argentina and Brazil did not enjoy the trust of markets but with the reforms implemented by President Lula da Silva the Brazilian situation has changed completely. And Argentina opted fro another path”, added Santiao who also mentioned that Asia is the market the region must look after given the growing links.
“Latin America is heading towards Asia, it is opening to China and India and currently Chile exports more to Asia than to the rest of the world”, pointed out Santiao who mentioned Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Mexico as the countries that most respect free markets and thus “why they receive most attention from international investors”.
However former Peruvian Economy and Finance minister Luis Carranza said that the need for reforms in Latam is “still enormous” and there has not been sufficient advance in opening markets, promoting trade and in education affairs.
Regarding regional integration Carranza underlined that the dominance of Brazil “makes it impossible, or very difficult to integrate among equals”, since between Brazil and Mexico they already represent over 60% of the region’s GDP.
Christian Daude, head of the Office for the Americas from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, warned that inequality, extreme poverty and poor fiscal policies persist in many countries and “these are the issues the governments must attack”.
“There are few opportunities for people to advance. Growth in the region continues under the umbrella of a very favourable global context” and it is important to underline that “the emerging middle class need to occupy their right place which will bring along new demands”.
Finally Emilio Ontiveros chair of consultants Analistas Financieros Internacionales shared Daude’s view and said the problems and challenges facing Latin America in the next few years will be closely linked to the inequality among its citizens.
“When the current Latam situation is described as a success, there is also a sweet-sour feeling. Experience tells us that inequality is never profitable in the medium or long term. There is too much to be done in this field”, concluded Ontiveros.