BUENOS AIRES, CMC – The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, wants regional integration promoted in specific areas beyond trade.
In addressing the World Economic Form on the region here, Barcena said the current global economic and political context presents “sharp tensions and uncertainties,” adding that it is not possible to keep doing “business as usual”.
Bárcena was the main speaker on a panel about the regional integration strategy group, in which government authorities and private-sector representatives also participated.
The senior United Nations official noted that that regional insertion in global trade is very low, stating that the region only has a 6 percent share of global exports, compared with developing Asia’s 31 percent – “which is compounded by the end of the so-called commodities ‘supercycle’” and the fact that, in the majority of regional countries, less than 1 percent of companies export.
“For that reason, at ECLAC, we contend that integration must be strengthened beyond the exchange of goods,” she said. “We must make progress on trade facilitation, on participation in value chains, on integration of infrastructure and energy, as well as in the technological and digital area.”
During the panel discussion on “Building a Regional Digital Market,” Bárcena urged that the region move toward development, according to ECLAC.
“Second generation public-private alliances are key to propelling integrated digital markets at a regional and sub-regional level in Latin America and the Caribbean,” she said, adding that the development of technological and digital platforms allows for “fomenting productive diversification, growth in productivity and for leveraging the fourth industrial revolution with greater scale, connection, access and dissemination of content.”
“The platforms of new information technologies potentiate this process,” she continued. “This improves the region’s competitiveness by modernizing infrastructure and technology networks.”
In this regard, Bárcena said that the Sixth Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean (the eLAC2018 meeting) will be held in Colombia next year, with the support of that country’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.
In addition to underscoring the importance of the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 goals (SDGs), Bárcena declared the agenda to be “civilizing” and “fundamental” for the region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Bárcena also emphasized the gender equality promoted by the 2030 Agenda, “which is an economic issue and not just a social one.”
We must guarantee the three autonomies of all women: physical, economic and that of decision-making, and end the statistical silence about gender parity,” she said, reminding delegates that ECLAC and the Mexican government are organizing the first meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development.
The event will be held on April 26-28 in the Mexican capital, where the region’s countries will present their progress on achieving the SDGs and address their means of implementation and financing.