(4 October 2012) The quality of investment inflows into Latin America and the Caribbean, especially in social and environmental terms, is key for the region's sustainable development, according to senior authorities from Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union at the opening day of a seminar being held at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile.
"Investment is the virtuous mechanism for making progress towards a more knowledge-intensive production structure with greater productivity and high levels of job creation", said Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Alicia Bárcena, speaking at the opening, where she was accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, Alfredo Moreno, Minister for Trade of Sweden, Ewa Björling, and President of the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean Foundation, Benita Ferrero Waldner.
The Seminar on "Investment for economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability", which ends on Friday, has been organized by the European Union (EU), the Government of Chile, the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean Foundation and ECLAC. Participants include ministers, deputy ministers, international officials and representatives from the private sector, civil society and the diplomatic corps of various Latin American and European countries.
This is one of the main preparatory activities for the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU), with the theme of "Alliance for Sustainable Development: Promoting Social and Environmental Quality Investments", planned for January 2013 in Chile.
Foreign Affairs Minister Alfredo Moreno gave details of the summit organization, which he described as "the largest international event to take place in Chile", and raised a few questions to guide the debate on investment: "How can we maximize the positive effects of investment in social and environmental terms? How can we ensure that such quality investments contribute to the development of countries? How can we ensure that investments take into account their setting and strengthen local capacities?".
Minister for Trade of Sweden, Ewa Björling, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stated that Europe is Latin America and the Caribbean's second trading partner, and that European flows to the region represent 40% of all foreign direct investment received. She also expressed concern about the protectionist trend observed in the world market and stated that the European Union intended to reach free trade agreements with all of the region's countries.
Similarly, Benita Ferrero Waldner, President of the EU-LAC Foundation, said that the bi-regional relationship offered great opportunities. She stated "We have to be able to take advantage of these opportunities. I am sure that the Chile Summit and the preparatory process itself can be a turning point in the process of endowing the strategic association with content to increase its relevance for the development of our societies".
The EU is the main cooperator, the top direct investor and the second trading partner of Latin America and the Caribbean, stated Ms. Bárcena, as she emphasized the fact that "deeper association between Latin America and the EU would enable our region to speed up economic growth, make progress in structural change towards more knowledge-intensive sectors, reduce poverty, increase social inclusion and guarantee environmental sustainability".
The various panel discussions planned for the seminar will discuss topics such as corporate social responsibility, the green economy, energy efficiency and renewable energy as investment opportunities for sustainable growth, local capacity building in terms of innovation, technology transfer and internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises.
On Friday 5, the second day of the seminar will be opened by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who is currently on a tour of South America, including Chile, Brazil and Argentina.
- Document European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean: Investments for growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability
- Words by Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary (in Spanish)
- Speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, Alfredo Moreno (in Spanish)
- Speech by the Minister for Trade of Sweden, Ewa Björling
Any queries should be sent to the ECLAC Public Information and Web Services Section.