Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Our Time of Opportunity

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Our Time of Opportunity

Article excerpt

Three years ago, the leaders of the western hemisphere gathered at the Fifth Summit of the Americas as a severe crisis gripped the world's financial markets. The mood was somber, and for good reason. The economic history of Latin America and the Caribbean gave many reasons for pessimism and fear.

And yet, since 2009, despite an uneven global recovery and the continuing risk of new crises, our region has been a source of economic growth and dynamism. In 2011 alone, Latin America and the Caribbean averaged 4.3 percent growth. Capital inflows to the region's largest economies reached a record $354 billion. The percentage of the region's people living in poverty continued to decline. And urban unemployment has also dipped, to 6.9 percent.

The region is on the right path. We have strong economies with solid foreign currency positions, low levels of debt and a sound, well-regulated financial sector. And our democratic governments are increasingly effective at reducing structural poverty, expanding public services and building infrastructure. This success is the result of two decades of wise policy and careful public management.

The Fifth Summit of the Americas demonstrated the value of bringing together the highest political leadership of the hemisphere's democracies. At that summit, leaders discussed a new Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas to confront these twin problems facing our hemisphere. It also called for the creation of an Inter-American Social Protection Network to build on the sterling success we have had in reducing poverty and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB is proud to be a partner in both these institutions, providing not just financing but also expertise and knowledge.

The agenda of the Sixth Summit of the Americas will focus attention on the key imperatives facing our countries in the coming decade.

Increasing productivity is one the region's most important challenges. Among the problems hindering progress are the poor quality of education, low investment in scientific research, and a big backlog of infrastructure projects. Although investments have increased in recent years, more work is needed to put us on a par with other regions around the world. I am pleased to see the physical integration of the hemisphere feature so prominently on the agenda of the Sixth Summit of the Americas. …

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