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OAS Secretary General Urges Reforms to Expand Latin American Economies

  June 10, 2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today called on Latin American countries to “deepen reforms” to “deliver the benefits of democracy, greater justice and shared growth,” during his address to the inaugural session of the Conference of Montreal, whose focus this year is “A New Economic Cycle: New Realities, New Frontiers.”

“Today’s Latin America is not the Latin America of times past,” said Secretary General Insulza, adding that ”we need to seize this moment to deepen reforms to position ourselves more solidly in the global arena.” The OAS leader noted that most Latin American countries have been enjoying a favorable economic outlook in recent years, though he also pointed out greater heterogeneity in recent forecasts. The region’s per capita income of nearly $10,000, he said “translates into a new phase of social progress and perspectives.”

“For the first time in its history, Latin America achieved during the past decade a combination of high growth, macroeconomic stability, poverty reduction and improvement in income distribution,” said the OAS leader, while pointing out that inequality in the region has meant that growth does not always translate into development.

The extent to which Latin America and the Caribbean grow and integrate into the global economy will depend largely, said Secretary General Insulza “by their links with other developing regions and by reforms to improve the competitiveness of their firms.” On that issue, he noted what he called “a new phenomenon in the Americas: a desire for deeper economic integration associated with stronger ties with Asia.” As his primary example, he noted the case of the Pacific Alliance – made up of Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Chile - which aims to move toward free movement of goods, service capital and labor among members, and to strengthen trade and investment ties with Asia.

“Today, the main economic challenge facing Latin American and Caribbean countries in developing their potential inside and outside the Hemisphere is not related to traditional trade barriers such as tariffs, but rather to transportation and logistics costs,” said Secretary General Insulza. Other ongoing challenges, according to the leader of the hemispheric organization, include lagging infrastructure, tax reform, energy insecurity, insufficient scientific and technological development, public security concerns, natural disasters, the impact of climate change, and how to achieve more inclusive societies.

To overcome these challenges, the OAS Secretary General called for greater focus “on the distribution of skills and opportunities, rather than solely on resource distribution.” He cited other needed reforms as well, among them “enhancing the quality of education, health care systems and the overall quality of the state apparatus to be able to deliver the benefits of democracy, greater justice and shared growth” to their citizens.

The Conference of Montreal brings together international business, education, political, and financial leaders to discuss very specific challenges facing the global economy. The yearly event, first held in 1995, focuses on the globalization of economies, and aims to foster economic discussions; promote relations between governments, international organizations, business leaders, civil society, workers, and academics; promote equitable development; and develop knowledge on the challenges facing the Americas.

The Conference of Montreal, taking place from June 10-13, at the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure Hotel, is committed to heightening knowledge and awareness of the major issues concerning economic globalization, with a particular emphasis on the relations between the Americas and other continents. Organized by the International Economic Forum of the Americas, the event strives to foster exchanges of information, to promote free discussion on major current economic issues and facilitate meetings between world leaders to encourage international discourse by bringing together Heads of State, the private sector, international organizations and civil society.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-236/13