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Finance ministers discuss deeper regional integration to stimulate growth and development in LAC

Latin America and the Caribbean is urged to implement a bold integration agenda

Finance ministers of the Americas and the Caribbean, and the heads of the Inter-American Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Treasury met today at the IDB to discuss policy options for relaunching regional integration to stimulate growth and contribute to long-term development in the region.

Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing a second consecutive year of negative growth something that hasn’t occurred in more than three decades. The region’s potential growth rate has fallen from 4.2 percent in 2008 to 3.1 percent at the present.

Paraguayan Finance Minister Santiago Peña Palacios delivered opening remarks before delegates from 22 countries. Speakers at the gathering also included IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno, IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

“We are living unique moments that compel us to find new ways to boost growth. Regional integration and cooperation must be part of the solution, not part of the problem. A protagonist role of the Ministers of Finance is key to place integration policies on top of the development agendas of the countries of the region”, Peña Palacios said.

In turn, Moreno said: “We need to bring new momentum to the regional integration process with a bold proposal. We need to turn our attention to policies and actions that promote a virtuous circle of investment, infrastructure and integration. In other words, we need an agenda with the pragmatic aim of reducing the cost of doing business within our own region.”

Latin American and the Caribbean face a challenging economic environment, characterized by weak global demand and deterioration in its terms of trade since the commodity super-cycle came to an end. After falling almost 14 percent in 2015, for the first time in 2016, the region's exports are contracting not just due to lower commodity prices but also because of decreases in volume.

Foregoing the benefits of deeper regional integration is an option that the countries of the region cannot afford in the current environment.

This Eighth Meeting of Finance Ministers of the Americas and the Caribbean was chaired by Minister Peña Palacios. Authorities from the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) also attended the event.

The Meeting of Finance Ministers of the Americas and the Caribbean – also known by its acronym RFM – is an annual policy dialogue devoted to issues of strategic importance and with the potential to promote economic integration and regional cooperation.

The IDB acts as the RFM's technical secretariat by supporting the preparation and overall coordination of its meetings.

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The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source oflong-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.