[Dateline: Santiago | Author: ECLAC]
Over the last week, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the
Caribbean , Alicia Bárcena, has been involved in a number of events, including meetings with Presidents in the region, during which they discussed the impact of the global financial crisis on the region and the need for extensive regulation and supervision.
Authorities call for extensive reform of international financial system
Authorities call for extensive reform of international financial system
Officials and experts gathered in the Dominican Republic last week exhorted world leaders to profoundly reform the international financial system and improve regulation and supervision of financial flows, in light of the current global crisis.
The two-day seminar on The emerging global financial order: A regional perspective, held from 22–23 November, was convened by Dominican President Leonel Fernández, with the collaboration and support of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean ( ECLAC ), the Inter-American Development Bank ( IDB ) and the Organization of American States ( OAS ) to discuss the effects of the global financial crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Participants called on international financial institutions and countries to implement counter-cyclical economic policies to compensate for the effects of international financial crisis. They also agreed on the need to create special financing for emerging countries that don’t have the capacity to implement these kinds of policies, and called for greater international coordination in macroeconomic policies.
“We must ensure that the funds provided by international organizations get to the real economy, to enhance the competitiveness of countries. We should define a new focus of development,” said ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena.
The seminar was attended by the President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya; the Prime Minister of Haiti, Michéle Pierre-Louis; Ms. Bárcena, the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza; government officials as well as representatives of the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ), the World Bank and the IDB.
Columbia University and Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics 2001, and Nicolás Eyzaguirre, Director of the Western Hemisphere Department of the IMF. The outcome of the seminar, dubbed: “Declaration of Santo Domingo”, will be presented in Bahía , Brazil in December at a meeting being convened by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to discuss the international financial crisis.
ECLAC chief, Mexican President urge taking advantage of financial crisis
The global financial crisis is an opportunity to reform the international economic order, in which there should be more State regulation and participation of emerging economies, stated the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, and the Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Alicia Bárcena, during a meeting on 21 November at the Commission headquarters in Santiago, Chile.
President Calderón, on an official visit toChile , delivered a lecture at ECLAC, which was attended by Chilean government officials, representatives of the diplomatic corps, academics, and officials of the United Nations system.
In the face of the current economic crisis, President Calderón said, Latin America and the Caribbean should take steps to heighten credibility and confidence towards the future. Countercyclical measures must be adopted in a coordinated way, he stated, calling for discipline in public finances. He urged governments to avoid what he called “the over indebtedness of their economies.” President Calderón said he believed in “expansive countercyclical measures, such as public spending on infrastructure or investment.”
The Mexican President also called for the need to reform national and the international financial systems. “The State should play a clear, firm and regulatory role to correct what the market was unable to, and which led us to the crisis,” he stressed.
A global financial structure must be created that is capable of understanding and intervening in the new economic context. “There should be greater participation from emerging economies and swifter decision-making processes. International organizations, duly capitalized, must intervene in order to compensate the contraction in credit we are seeing in developing economies,” said President Calderón.
However, he noted that governments should avoid resorting back to protectionism. “That would be a false solution to this crisis. I believe the role of trade and the market is a subject that should be debated in ECLAC, in all of Latin America and in the world. In this global economy, creating barriers for trade and investment will only exacerbate the recession,” warned President Calderón.
The Mexican President called on Latin America to work together to address the global crisis. “Above all, I call on peoples and governments in the region not only to once again view the future with hope, but also work (with determination) to give it direction, and consider the current situation as a great opportunity,” he said.
Alicia Bárcena recalled a statement she made when she became Executive Secretary of ECLAC that the world “is not living an era of changes, but rather a change of era”, and called for action, saying, the international financial crisis provides an opportunity to do things differently.
“Today, we have this opportunity and it is our duty to make the most of it. The G-20 meeting last week and the participation in it of Argentina , Brazil and Mexico was a historic event, an opportunity for the voices in the region to be heard, and take hold of destiny,” she stated.
She also sent a message to the three countries: “Avoid over-regulating markets, protectionist positions in trade, protect social spending, invest in infrastructure to generate employment, but take care of the environment.” She also urged them to “demand solidarity for the most vulnerable from developed countries with the same magnitude, priority and urgency with which those countries rushed to rescue the financial system.”
Ms. Bárcena told President Calderón that “today’s urgent challenges are enormous. Mexico , and all of Latin America and the Caribbean , can be sure that they can continue to count on ECLAC.” She said: “We need more of Mexico here in the South. The redesign of the international financial system is providing us with an opportunity to confirm that multilateralism is the method and the instance for this change.”
ECLAC Chief discusses financial crisis with Brazilian President
The Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Alicia Bárcena, met in São Paulo with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva last week, to discuss the effects of the global financial crisis on the region.
Ms. Bárcena, who was in Brazil to attend the International Conference on Biofuels, organized by the Brazilian government from 17-21 November, met with President Lula and other officials at the government palace, where they exchanged views on the impact of the crisis on the region.
The Executive Secretary offered to prepare a summary of the expected effects of the crisis in the region and the main short and medium-term measures that countries are adopting to address the situation.
President Lula noted how strategically important it is for the region for governments to have highly-prepared technical professionals in order to apply public policies efficiently.
The ECLAC Executive Secretary suggested extending and deepening the work of the Latin American and Caribbean Institute for Economic and Social Planning ( ILPES ), dependent of ECLAC, to help meet this demand.
During the "International Conference on Biofuels: Biofuels as a Vector for Sustainable Development", Ms. Bárcena participated in the launching of the book: "Sugarcane-based Bioethanol: Energy for Sustainable Development", published by the Brazilian National Bank for Economic and Social Development ( BNDES ), the Center for Strategic Management and Studies ( CGEE ) of Brazil, ECLAC and the regional Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO ) office for Latin America and the Caribbean.