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More than 800 business and government leaders discuss ambitious integration agenda to compete in global trade

IDB President and Paraguay’s Minister of Industry and Trade inaugurate the Business Forum at the Bank’s Annual Meeting

ASUNCION, Paraguay – The Business Forum “Latin America: An Agenda for Growth and Development” opened today, with more than 800 business leaders and high-level government officials from 33 countries. The participants gathered to discuss Forum an ambitious integration agenda to help the region participate in international value chains and compete in global trade.

The event was attended by the president of Paraguay, Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Luis Alberto Moreno, and Paraguay’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Gustavo Leite.

“I am convinced that Latin America is now in a position to move quickly toward a deeper form of regional integration. Today, perhaps for the first time in our history, we can start to lay the foundation for a regional market with a gross product of around $5 trillion, which is 7 percent of global GDP, and a population of 600 million,” Moreno said in his opening speech.

Mr. Leite presented Paraguay’s new national brand campaign, and described the opportunities the country offers investors in a variety of sectors. The country increased its exports by 3 percent in 2016 thanks to new business opportunities in Asia and South America. This contrasts with the region's exports contraction of 6 percent last year.

The Business Forum was organized by the IDB with the support of Paraguay’s Ministry of Industry and Trade as part of the Americas Business Dialogue (ABD). ABD is the largest and most active public–private dialogue in the Americas, led by the private sector and facilitated by the IDB. Following its creation in 2012, more than 200 firms and 65 private-sector associations played a part in drafting the set of public policy recommendations that were presented to the heads of state and government at the 2015 CEO Summit of the Americas. These recommendations are currently being implemented.

During the forum, high-profile panelists such as Andrea Grobocopatel, president of Argentina’s Los Grobo; Marcelo Secco, CEO of Marfrig Southern Cone; and Florencia Bedacarratz, director of Dow AgroSciences for southern Latin America, analyzed ways that agricultural productivity and innovation could be sustainably increased in the agribusiness sector to stimulate trade and market access.

Romaine Seguin, the president of UPS in the Americas, Trinidad Jiménez, director of Telefónica’s global strategy for public affairs, and Jay Collins, vice chairman of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup were among the speakers who analyzed how to reduce and finance the infrastructure investment gap to help companies integrate into global markets. To bridge this gap, it is estimated that Latin America and the Caribbean will need to invest an additional 2.5 percent of GDP for a prolonged period of time.

The speakers also discussed issues such as the need to create an innovation ecosystem that improves productivity and places particular emphasis on training the new talent that the digital economy needs.

The business leaders will hold meetings with ministers of the treasury and finance from different countries to move toward implementing the policy recommendations and public–private initiatives mentioned above to be presented at the next Summit of the Americas, which will take place in April 2018 in Lima, Peru.

The Business Forum is being held as part of the annual meeting of the Boards of Governors of the IDB and the Inter-American Investment Corporation.

The Americas Business Dialogue (ABD) seeks to promote high-level public–private dialogue between business leaders and governments in the region around the challenges and opportunities for economic growth and development.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

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