The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, participated on Thursday, October 26 in the “Dialogues on Uruguay’s Future,” where he reiterated the importance of Productive Development Policies (PDP) as catalysts for higher-quality international economic integration – especially in small economies – and for a better future in terms of production and work in the region’s countries.
The senior United Nations official was one of the main speakers at the two events held in Montevideo in the framework of the “Dialogues on Uruguay’s Future”: the first on that South American country’s international economic integration, and the second on “The future of production and work in Uruguay: current conditions, existing challenges and prospects,” both of which were organized by the United Nations Office in Uruguay, with the collaboration of ECLAC and the regional office for the Southern Cone of Latin America of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
In the first of the dialogues on international economic integration, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs participated along with Pablo Ruiz-Hiebra, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uruguay; Nicolás Albertoni, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay; and Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD (via video), among other prominent figures.
Salazar-Xirinachs emphasized that trade and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows are two of the main drivers of growth and development, especially in the case of small economies like that of Uruguay and Costa Rica (the country of origin of ECLAC’s Executive Secretary).
“In small economies, integration in the global economy can invigorate growth and can be very transformational, but the ensuing development pattern depends not only on how that process of international integration is oriented and conducted but also on how it is complemented with domestic policies on human talent development, infrastructure, territorial development and social development, to mention just the main ones,” he explained.
But high-quality international integration is not just a matter of trade and investment, he warned. It is a broader challenge involving each country’s productive development and technological sophistication.
“Quality international integration is a broader challenge involving the productive development and technological sophistication of each country, because improving integration requires changing specialization patterns and increasing the economic complexity of exports. That is why we at ECLAC are insisting on the importance of PDPs, complemented by science and technology and human talent policies. It is key for countries to focus their efforts on a variety of sectors that drive and invigorate growth,” Salazar-Xirinachs emphasized.
He recalled that ECLAC recommends a list of 14 dynamic sectors that include renewable energy, the bioeconomy, the circular economy, the pharmaceutical and life-sciences sectors, the medical device sector, Internet-enabled modern services, the digital transformation, sustainable tourism, sustainable water management, agriculture for food security, the care society and others.
In a presentation made on the panel entitled “Main challenges for economic integration in an international context of uncertainty,” ECLAC’s Executive Secretary indicated that productive development policies are key because that is where the toolbox lies for influencing the level and direction of economic growth, to make it higher, more sustained, inclusive and sustainable.
“A sustainable and inclusive productive development agenda aims for the sophistication, diversification and virtuous structural change of the production structure as a vehicle for increasing productivity and achieving greater levels of prosperity,” he underscored.
Meanwhile, in the second of the dialogues on the future of production and work, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary gave a presentation on “Production and Work Trends: Global Dimensions, Regional Context and Opportunities for Uruguay.” Also participating in this event were Pablo Ruiz-Hiebra, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uruguay; Rodrigo Goñi, Congressman and Chair of the Uruguayan Parliament’s Committee on the Future; and Pablo Mieres, Minister of Labor and Social Security of Uruguay, among other experts and representatives from the business sector, academia and UN organizations (such as the ILO).
In his remarks, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs pointed to four factors of change in the world of work: demographics, the technological revolution, new business models and hiring practices, and the pace of economic growth and productive development. On this last topic, he indicated that Latin America and the Caribbean is lagging behind, with productivity gaps that are widening instead of narrowing. “There are big differences in productivity across sectors and regions: that is where both labor informality and inequality are rooted,” he warned.
“The future of work depends on the future of production, and vice versa. This is about building capacities in economies and societies to produce goods and services that are more technologically sophisticated,” ECLAC’s Executive Secretary stated.
In this area, he indicated that ECLAC proposes 6 lines of action for building a better future in terms of production and work: 1) Create and strengthen spaces for thinking and acting collectively with a long-term, forward-looking vision; 2) New Human Talent Agenda: Major revolution in education; 3) Develop an ambitious productive development policy agenda to promote higher, more sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth; 4) Accelerate the digital transformation; 5) Support labor transitions and protect workers by redesigning and strengthening labor market and social protection institutions and regulations; and 6) Address the consequences of demographic change.