ASUNCION – After two years of recession, Latin America is growing again this year at a projected rate of 1.5 percent, and should take steps toward an integrated regional market to speed up economic expansion, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank said on Friday.
“Latin America will grow again this year at a rate of 1.5 percent,” IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno said during his speech at the Entrepreneurial Forum on the second day of the bank’s annual meeting, being held in Paraguay.
The head of the regional development institution acknowledged that “it’s not the rate we would like, but it’s a welcome trend” after the recession in 2015 and 2016.
Over the past two years, the region suffered the consequences of sharp downturns in Argentina and Brazil, two of its biggest economies, both of which are expected to experience positive growth this year.
In order to promote this economic expansion, Moreno noted the need to invest “in Latin American integration projects,” which will cut the costs of internal trade, and cited as an example the Agua Negra tunnel that will unite northern Chile and Argentina.
“We must move toward a Latin American regional market and take advantage of the critical mass of a total $5 trillion GDP and 600 million inhabitants,” said Moreno, who hailed the progress in creating unique digital export windows.
To highlight the effectiveness of today’s new measures, he said the time needed to go through all the procedures to export Paraguayan meat has dropped from 10 days to just 3 hours.
The event was headed by Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and Industry and Trade Minister Gustavo Leite, while the IDB was to present its macroeconomic report on the outlook and challenges in the region.