Latin America 2018
Leadership, Governance and Pathways to Economic Progress
In 2018, a series of elections have the potential to deliver major changes in leadership and strategic direction in some of Latin America’s largest economies. Colombia, Mexico and Brazil will all elect new presidents, as will Paraguay and Costa Rica. International focus will also be on the region as Argentina holds the G20 presidency, the first South American country to do so.
Latin America is emerging from half a decade of slow economic growth, and some countries from years of recession. Addressing relatively low levels of domestic productivity, gaps in critical infrastructure as well as educational and health inequalities calls for increased investment and structural reforms across the region. Greater economic diversification, innovation and new business models will also be needed to harness Latin America’s demographic dividend, to future-proof its economies and to make them less reliant on commodities exports.
Meanwhile, global instability and changes in the dynamics of international trade are creating a new set of challenges. Despite growth in key markets such as China, the United States and the European Union, drivers of export growth remain volatile and Latin American countries continue to lose their global share to other regions. The future development, prosperity and security of the region through international trade are interlinked with the sustainability of natural resources and the environment. While a range of sustainability challenges need to be addressed across the region, innovative solutions are being developed that position some countries as potential leaders in many areas.
In this context, Chatham House will convene leaders from government, the private sector and civil society to look at current political, economic and social dynamics in the Latin America region and to assess prospects for increasing investment, sustainable growth and future prosperity.
Discussions will address topics including:
- The new agendas being set and common challenges faced by leaders across the region following recent elections and political transitions
- Future scenarios for the ongoing crisis in Venezuela and the prospects for stabilization
- Regional integration, global trade flows, and the role of the US and China in Latin America
- Key resource sustainability issues for the future and ways to overcome challenges and provide solutions
- Economic reforms to improve productivity and create conditions for increasing investment
The Chatham House Rule
To enable as open a debate as possible, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule.
Thursday 25 October
Session One | Economic, Political and Societal Change in Latin America
This opening session will assess the political and socio-economic outlook for the region in the context of recent leadership transitions. It will explore the new agendas being set and common challenges faced by leaders across the region.
- What is the current macroeconomic outlook for the region?
- Following the recent electoral cycle, how might current social, fiscal and monetary policies and trends change in major economies?
- How can concerns about crime, corruption and low levels of trust in political leadership be addressed? What structural and institutional reforms are needed?
- What are the future scenarios for the ongoing crisis in Venezuela and what are the prospects for stabilization?
- What uncertainties and opportunities are created in the region by the influence of China and emerging global geopolitical tensions?
- What role can and should Latin America play on the global stage? What opportunity is there to lead and shape global policy development through the G20 presidency of Argentina?
Session Two | Regional Integration and Global Trade
As protectionism emerges as an increasingly global trend, some Latin American countries continue their long-standing efforts to promote regional integration and attempts to dismantle protectionist policies. At a time when Chinese public and private companies have become leading investors in the region, uncertainties over the United States’ trade stance, in particular NAFTA, are rapidly altering strategic relationships. This session will unpack these changing trade and investment dynamics, explore increased commonality between countries in Latin America and assess ongoing initiatives and precursors that exist towards delivering greater regional integration.
- What do regional trade blocs and integration initiatives look like in practice in Latin America today? In what ways are their objectives similar or different? Is there scope for greater convergence between the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur, for example?
- What will be the next driver of export expansion for the region? How can regions better integrate into global value chains?
- How are the NAFTA renegotiations affecting regional dynamics and in particular Mexico’s bilateral trade relationships?
- What are the economic and geopolitical implications of increasing Chinese trade and investment in Latin America?
- Ongoing EU–Mercosur negotiations seem close to conclusion. How important are multilateral trade deals with the EU to future international trade?
- Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, what possibilities exist for future bilateral trade negotiations and increased cooperation and investment between the UK and countries in Latin America?
Session Three | Sustainability, Energy and Natural Resources
Much of the total global investment in renewable power and fuels in emerging markets is directed to Latin American countries. There is an opportunity for the region not only to lead the energy transition, but to address other global challenges such as meeting global food demand sustainably. Agriculture, forestry, mining and extractives are vital natural resource exports for the region, but demand increase is putting greater pressure on land and making planning and managing its use increasingly complex. This session will address the most important sustainability issues for the future and assess ways in which Latin American countries are both overcoming challenges and providing solutions.
- Many countries have set ambitious renewables goals and offer innovative financial incentives for project deployment. What current models are available for the financing of renewables in the region?
- What role can Latin American countries play in creating more sustainable food systems?
- What role are Latin American leaders taking in raising ambition and delivering on global climate change commitments?
- Where is resource use at its most critical in the region, with what consequences for society and the environment?
Session Four | Infrastructure, Innovation and New Business Models
There is a growing consensus across the region that growth cannot be sustained by exploiting natural resources alone. Increased economic diversification, innovation and new business models will be needed to improve productivity in all sectors, take advantage of the region’s demographic dividend and ensure sustainable growth and employment. At stake is not only economic growth, but sustaining the major social gains made over the last decade by reducing poverty and increasing the size of the middle class across the region. This panel will assess what is being done at both the governmental and multinational level to reform sectors of the economy to improve productivity and create conditions for increasing investment.
- There exist significant differences between countries in terms of infrastructure investment. What critical infrastructure is needed and where?
- What is the best way to finance infrastructure investment? What kinds of technical assistance could improve outcomes?
- The world is moving beyond knowledge-based economies to automated economies. How prepared is the region to adapt to this coming change?
- Cities and financial centres will be vital to future innovation and entrepreneurship. Which cities are currently best placed to do this? What barriers to development need to be overcome and how?
- Gender inequality has been identified as limiting the region’s economic potential. What progress is being made on this across the region?
1700 Close of conference and reception hosted by Chatham House
© The Royal Institute of International Affairs 2018
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AFTER 7 SEPTEMBER
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The Chatham House Rule
To enable as open a debate as possible, this event will be held under the Chatham House Rule.