Crossroads with nature in Serra do Mar www.fotografiasaereas.com.br

In Latin America, as elsewhere, sustainable infrastructure plays a vital role in improving the quality of life and supporting economic growth. It determines our capacity to engage competitively in global trade and to grow our economies. In our cities, where 80% of the region’s population lives, infrastructure helps reduce poverty by enhancing access to basic services and facilitating access to knowledge and employment opportunities.

After years of strong performance, Latin America’s economies are facing a dimmer outlook. The region’s GDP growth will be negative for the second consecutive year in 2016, shrinking by between 0.9% and 1% in 2016, a contraction which has not been seen since the early 1980s. This slowdown has stalled the reduction of inequalities and the expansion of the middle class, with 25 to 30 million vulnerable Latin Americans at risk of falling back into poverty in the near future. 

Trade Minister of Costa Rica, Anabel González, and OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría. ©OECD/Herve Cortinat

Costa Rica became the 45th country to adhere to the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises, an OECD instrument designed to help the country attract more and better foreign investment and promote responsible business conduct.

Prime Minister of Latvia, Valdis Dombrovskis ©Reuters/Ints Kalnins

On 19 September the OECD set out a clear path for Colombia’s accession to the organisation, reinforcing its commitment to further extend its global membership to include more emerging economies. On 16 October the OECD issued an accession roadmap for Latvia too.

After a euphoric decade, reforms to consolidate recent gains and confront challenges ahead are needed. Are Latin America’s economic fortunes changing? Over the last decade, policymakers and the general public became used to good news from this lively continent. Latin America was abuzz with optimism, buoyed by strong growth and rising incomes.

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Latin America’s future as a region of innovation will be far from secure if investment in research and development (R&D) continues at current low levels.

©Reuters/Stringer Mexico

Nearly two decades ago, in May 1994, Mexico became the first Latin American country to join the OECD. Not long after, in 1996, the secretary general of the OECD at the time, Jean-Claude Paye and the then Mexican minister of foreign affairs and current secretary-general, Angel Gurría, opened the OECD Mexico Centre. Initially, our job was to promote OECD publications in Mexico and throughout Latin America. But that mission has grown since, to include “disseminating, promoting and making accessible better policies, to governments, economic and social actors throughout Latin America, for better lives of their citizens”. 

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