(19 November 2013) Speaking today at a meeting in Abu Dhabi, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, stated that the region needs "more inclusion and more well-being", given the high level of inequality and the lack of public goods affecting many citizens.
On Tuesday, the senior United Nations official took part in a plenary session entitled "Regional Perspectives on Global Trends", in the framework of the Second Global Meeting of Regional Organizations.
The meeting, which is being jointly organized by the World Economic Forum and the Government of the United Arab Emirates, is being held in the capital Abu Dhabi from 18 to 20 November and is being attended by representatives from around 20 organizations.
The plenary session, which was moderated by Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, also featured contributions by the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, Fathallah Sijilmassi; Sweden's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt; former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; former Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for the Environment, Yoriko Kawaguchi; and Chairman of the Eurasian Development Bank, Igor Finogenov.
According to the Executive Secretary of ECLAC "We are the most unequal region in the world. Not the poorest, but the most unequal", while stating that Latin America and the Caribbean is rich in natural resources but has limited governance over them in terms of ownership and distribution.
Alicia Bárcena explained that the emerging middle classes now have greater access to private consumption of household goods, but the public services, goods and spaces that should be provided by the State lack the appropriate quality or infrastructure.
In terms of the international economic situation, the Executive Secretary of ECLAC emphasized that the region is vulnerable to the price volatility of raw materials, which is mainly due to external factors, particularly the growth of the Chinese economy.
Ms. Bárcena added "China is moving its foundations towards investment. We are still continuing down the road of consumption, but we should also move towards investment". She explained that the problem is that Latin America and the Caribbean has higher imports than exports, and some countries do not have enough savings to invest more.
Alicia Bárcena also pointed out that Latin America and the Caribbean remains very fragmented, citing as an example the low percentage of intraregional trade that she said makes up just 19% of the total, whereas in Asia the figure is almost 40% and in Europe two thirds.
The Executive Secretary of ECLAC also took part in the Summit on the Global Agenda 2013, which is being held for the sixth year in a row in the United Arab Emirates.
At the Summit, leaders and experts from universities, businesses, governments and multilateral agencies, as well as civil-society representatives, review emerging regional and worldwide trends and challenges in the political, economic, social, technological and environmental spheres.
This year, the Summit is bringing together 900 members of the 86 Global Agenda Councils (GACs) of the World Economic Forum. One of these is the Global Agenda Council on Latin America, which has Enrique García, Head of the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, as President and Alicia Bárcena as Vice-President.
In this context, the Executive Secretary of ECLAC coordinated a working session with the Global Agenda Council on China in which she stressed that both regions should aim for a long-term strategic relationship that strengthens their economic, commercial and cultural ties.
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