MONTEVIDEO – With the presence of more than 700 businessmen and investors from Latin America and Europe, the two regions are forging in Uruguay a new set of trade relations after two days of expositions and exchanging ideas at the 1st European Investment Forum in Uruguay, which concluded Thursday.
The event, being held in the southernmost national capital in the Americas, was described as a success both by the European Union and the Uruguay XXI investment and foreign trade agency, which jointly organized the forum.
“This is a long process because any investment decision takes time, but what’s important is that people have come and that the gathering was successful,” the EU’s ambassador to Uruguay, Juan Fernandez Trigo, told EFE.
In addition, he emphasized that the aim is “to see to it that people come and verify firsthand what a country can offer” and, judging by the “expressions of satisfaction from the companies during the day” the meeting was positive.
The two-day event was attended by 720 participants and was held in a luxury hotel in the heart of Montevideo’s Old City.
On the first day, participants discussed – in various conferences and panels – the overall investment situation in Latin America, where the EU represents 37 percent of all foreign investment.
Also discussed were a Free Trade Agreement between Mercosur and the EU, talks which – the EU ambassador said – “the two delegations are very convinced must be accelerated before the end of the year.”
On this point, Uruguayan Transportation and Public Works Minister Victor Rossi said that signing a treaty between the two blocs would act as a “multiplier in all areas of exchange.”
“Starting with the accords, we’re going to see different initiatives facilitated, different exchanges and different businesses,” he told EFE.
The forum emphasized the position of Uruguay as a point of entry to the region and prioritized investment in infrastructure, energy, global services and agribusiness via panel discussions participated in by local government ministers, experts and European firms already established in the South American nation.
During the symposium, Uruguayan government representatives emphasized the country’s economic and political stability, something that sets it apart from the rest of the region and favors foreign investment.
Deputy Economy Minister Pablo Ferreri told EFE that the Uruguay’s “strength and social, legal and political certainty” is a “very strong” difference the country has compared with other Latin American nations.
“What makes Uruguay attractive has to do with its small size, which makes processes and contacts” easy and quick to accomplish, Ferreri said.
Meanwhile, the director of social research and economics at the CAF-Development Bank of Latin American, Christian Daude, said that the biggest challenges facing Latin America these days are “geopolitical uncertainty, “technological change” and the “displacement of the center of gravity toward Asia.”
“We have to take high geopolitical uncertainty into account, which is going to lead to price fluctuations for some primary materials,” he said.