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At Tuxtla Summit, ECLAC Called for Promoting Public-Private Partnerships as Instruments of Development Rather Than of Privilege

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29 March 2017|Press Release

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations regional organization, Alicia Bárcena, spoke today at the XVI Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Tuxtla Dialogue and Agreement Mechanism, held in San Jose, Costa Rica.


Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary, during her presentation at the Summit in Costa Rica.
Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary, during her presentation at the Summit in Costa Rica.

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), called for promoting intraregional productive integration and public-private partnerships as instruments of development, rather than of privilege, within frameworks of governance and transparency, during the XVI Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Tuxtla Dialogue and Agreement Mechanism in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Bárcena presented the main findings of the study Public-Private Partnerships as an Instrument for Strengthening the Objectives of the Mesoamerican Project to the presidents of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, who hosted the gathering; of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos; of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales; of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto; and of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela. Other participants included the Vice President of Honduras, Ava Rossana Guevara, and foreign ministers Wilfred Elrington (Belize), Miguel Vargas (the Dominican Republic), Hugo Martínez (El Salvador) and Denis Moncada (Nicaragua).

“We don’t want public-private partnerships to create contingent liabilities for public finances. Instead they must boost investment, contribute to productive diversification, permit the development of new industries with less environmental impact, create jobs, and forge a true convergence between companies and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to achieve greater social well-being and shared economic progress,” Bárcena emphasized.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, public-private alliances play a growing role in the economy but they are still concentrated in very few countries and in sectors such as telecommunications and energy, Bárcena explained. She described Central America as “the most integrated subregional market,” citing as examples the Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC) and the Central American Digital Trade Platform (PDCC).

According to ECLAC’s study, in the 1990-2015 period Mesoamerican countries carried out a total of 555 projects within the framework of public-private partnerships, which represented a total investment of $118.315 billion dollars. The document analyzes successful cases from Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico and Panama.

Despite this, Bárcena warned that investment, especially in infrastructure, is still insufficient and there are urgent challenges to be faced throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, including the low tax burden and fiscal evasion. With regard to investment, she noted the negative growth rates that gross fixed capital formation continues to experience: by late 2016, the region as a whole had registered 11 consecutive quarters of declines, although rates remained stable in Central America.

To fulfill the objectives of the Mesoamerica Integration and Development Project, known as the Mesoamerican Project and launched in 2008, it is necessary to ensure that public-private partnerships have an integrated and sustainable vision, strengthening planning, improving regulatory mechanisms and bolstering national systems for public investment, she indicated.

“We can improve institutional capacities for management and prioritize productivity, job creation, social inclusion and environmental sustainability,” Bárcena stressed.

The Tuxtla Dialogue and Agreement Mechanism, which came into being in 1991 in the Mexican city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez (the capital of Chiapas state), has declared its objectives to include “political dialogue, consolidating peace, democracy and fostering regional cooperation.”

It is made up of Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama, which together account for 226 million inhabitants and 35% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the Summit, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís underlined five priorities for the bloc: migration, the inclusion of women, climate change, nuclear disarmament, and alliances for sustainable development. Meanwhile, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ratified his country’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, highlighting the incorporation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into Colombia’s National Development Plan.

President Juan Carlos Valera of Panama addressed challenges regarding migration, logistics and security, while the Guatemalan Head of State, Jimmy Morales, stressed that his country had worked toward guaranteeing reliable and affordably priced sustainable energy sources.

At the gathering, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico – which holds ECLAC’s Presidency until 2018 – invited attendees to participate in the first meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, which will take place in Mexico City on April 26-28.

The Forum was created as a regional mechanism for follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

ECLAC participated in the Summit as part of the Interinstitutional Technical Group, which also includes the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), CAF–Development Bank of Latin America, the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SG-SICA), the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

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For queries, contact ECLAC’s Public Information Unit.

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