The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says that finance ministers of the Americas and the heads of the IDB, the International Monetary Fund (IDB), the World Bank and the US Department of Treasury met at IDB headquarters “to discuss policy options for relaunching regional integration to stimulate growth and contribute to long-term development in the region.”
Authorities from the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) also attended the event.
“Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing a second consecutive year of negative growth – something that hasn’t occurred in more than three decades,” said the IDB, while noting that the region’s potential growth rate has fallen from 4.2 percent in 2008 to 3.1 percent at the present.
IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno said there was need “to bring new momentum to the regional integration process with a bold proposal.
“We need to turn our attention to policies and actions that promote a virtuous circle of investment, infrastructure and integration,” he said. “In other words, we need an agenda with the pragmatic aim of reducing the cost of doing business within our own region.”
The IDB said Latin American and the Caribbean face a “challenging economic environment,” characterized by weak global demand and deterioration in its terms of trade since the commodity super-cycle came to an end.
After falling almost 14 percent in 2015, for the first time in 2016, the IDB said the region’s exports are contracting “not just due to lower commodity prices but also because of decreases in volume.
“Foregoing the benefits of deeper regional integration is an option that the countries of the region cannot afford in the current environment,” the IDB said.
The Eighth Meeting of Finance Ministers of the Americas and the Caribbean was chaired by Paraguayan Finance Minister Santiago Peña Palacios, who delivered opening remarks before delegates from 22 countries.
The Meeting of Finance Ministers of the Americas and the Caribbean – also known by its acronym RFM – is an annual policy dialogue devoted to issues of strategic importance and with the potential to promote economic integration and regional cooperation.
Speakers at the gathering also included IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
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