London Hosts 3rd Latin America Investment Forum – OpEd
By Peter Tase
On March 14 more than 500 European and Latin American business Leaders gathered at the third consecutive Latin American Investment Forum (LAIF 2013) in London, UK.
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, was the key note speaker and he stressed the strong economic relations between Britain and Latin America, as well as great opportunities this region offers to foreign investment.
This event was organized by the Latin American Association of Trade and Investment (LATIA), representing foreign investment interests of most of Latin American Countries.
According to Secretary Hague, “Latin America is one of the World’s largest markets, with economies in development that are more open to foreign investment, and Great Britain is the most open economy in the world. In these difficult moment, investment in Latin America can greatly impulse the global economy, in this context [Hague] encouraged British companies to explore the potential for investments in Latin America.”
There are many reasons why foreign investors should seriously consider investing in Latin America. It is considered to be the World’s powerhouse for its natural resources, particularly its fresh water reserves, currently operating mining sector in Chile and Peru as well as untapped copper, uranium and titanium resources in Paraguay.
On the other hand Panama is expected to become a trade and cultural hub and is undergoing through a US$5.25 billion project of the Canal’s expansion that is scheduled to be completed by 2014. Even though Panama City is becoming an attractive investment destination. Even though President Ricardo Martinelli’s administration is leading such large infrastructure projects he is not improving Panama’s education policy and address social reform.
According to Ronn Pineo, Senior Research Fellow of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs “[With all] these pressing social concerns, it is fair to ask if Panamá might be ready for a change in policy direction. But context is everything, and Panamá is predisposed to favor free enterprise. Its life blood is commercial banking, handling many legitimate deposits but also doing a lively business in money laundering. Also vital are the vast duty-free zones, and, of course, free-flowing transport by ship, rail or via pipelines.”
Pineo said, “Running hard against this sentiment is the widespread disgust with Martinelli’s alleged galling corruption and his misplaced government spending priorities. Ordinary people voice a shared conviction that the government should focus on urgent pressing needs like access to water and improving public education.” COHA’s research staff has investigated for two years the various corruption cases surrounding the Martinelli government. Unfortunately little can be said how successful has COHA been towards curtailing corruption cases in Panama, despite repeatedly denouncing them.
Latin America is the world’s region with the highest GDP growth, even though the world experienced an economic crisis investments have grown steadily in 2006 and was consolidated as an excellent place for business. The major investment destinations are Brazil, Mexico, followed by Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Peru. London is expected to serve as a genuinely important location to showcase Latin America’s products and untapped agricultural resources.