Latin America has large areas of land rich in minerals and other raw materials. In addition, Latin America's tropical and temperate climates make it ideal for growing a variety of agricultural products. After several years of slow growth, the economy of Latin America and the Caribbean is facing a further setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Bank is working with member countries to accelerate support for the pandemic and other development priorities in the region.
The health crisis will have a long-term impact on the region's economies, as it still faces major uncertainties, such as the emergence of new variants of the virus, global inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The global economic landscape has changed radically since you wrote your first book in the late 1960s. However, much remains to be done both in terms of national policies and in intraregional cooperation** to improve linkages with the global economy. Latin America and the Caribbean are also exposed to and vulnerable to disasters, from earthquakes to floods that can devastate entire regions, and hurricanes that devastate Caribbean states.
As many observers have pointed out, what is most lacking in Latin American integration is precisely the establishment of stronger trade and financial ties between the countries of the Southern Cone and those of the North. These changes, accentuated by an adverse global environment, could result in a gradual convergence between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance, as proposed by the Chilean Government. Development in Latin America is not conceived, to a greater extent, simply as “economic development”. The World Bank is rapidly supporting efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean to address impacts related to COVID-19, through new operations and by redirecting funds from existing projects.
This seems to be coming to an end, and China is showing interest in growing its influence in Africa and Latin America. The committee is composed of a group of prestigious independent Latin American economists, former legislators and academics with solid experience in the field of macroeconomics, banking and finance and whose objective is to identify and analyze the challenges and risks for the region. Even some economists working at the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), a very influential United Nations commission for which I worked at the time, were influenced by that vision. It offered general guidelines for the development of Latin American and Caribbean countries, including, in particular, the proposal that production should be more competitive internationally, not only to increase exports but also to achieve efficient import substitution.
The region should, as a complement, strengthen its regional financial institutions (CAF) and the Latin American Reserve Fund (FLAR).