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ECLAC Head Calls On Caribbean To Reinvigorate Integration And Bolster Intra-regional Trade

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC. Photo: Lorenzo Moscia/ECLAC.

ECLAC Head Calls On Caribbean To Reinvigorate Integration And Bolster Intra-regional Trade

SÃO PAULO, Brazil, March 16, 2018 (CMC) – The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, has called on regional countries to reinvigorate the process of integration and bolster intra-regional trade, to confront new global challenges.

Addressing the World Economic Forum on Latin America 2018, Bárcena warned that 165 million young people living in the region “do not necessarily find their place in the national projects that are being designed for the future”.

“There is a risk of a growing disconnect between the youth of the region and traditional government institutions and representatives, as well as a significant gap between the opportunities for the well-being that are produced by the current, more favourable economic conditions and the real satisfaction felt by ordinary citizens, who do not perceive these benefits,” she said.

In the context of the current digital revolution and global geopolitical and trade-related changes, Bárcena urged regional countries to embrace “a paradigm shift and a new narrative, oriented toward a renewed public-private-citizen compact, with an emphasis on continuing education, technology and innovation”.

She added, this allows for ”leaving behind the region’s structural inequalities and injustices, which affect, first and foremost, women, young people and ethnic and Afro-descendant minorities,” according to ECLAC.

Furthermore, the ECLAC Chief called for ending impunity, based on the culture of the privileges that characterize societies in the region, and urged for the provision of public goods that are “more collective, of better quality and less segmented, with the active participation of the private sector”.

In this nexus, Bárcena called for forging a “great, regional compact between the public and private sectors, to move ahead toward the fourth industrial revolution”.

“My proposal is for a major compact in favor of technological innovation,” she said.

Bárcena, who later participated in a panel discussion on “Regional Integration: Full Steam Ahead?” yesterday, said Latin America and the Caribbean has reacted to a complex trade scenario by intensifying its ties with partners outside the region, in particular, with China and other economies in Asia.

But she said reinvigorating integration and trade with partners inside the region is “much better, because it integrates small and medium-sized enterprises in value and export chains, even if this continues to be a pending matter”.

Bárcena underscored the “great potential” of a regional market, with more than 630 million people, “which, nonetheless, continues to be underexploited”.

She recalled that, while some important progress has been made, in particular the agreements reached within MERCOSUR, to define common systems for foreign investment, in April 2017, and for public hiring, in December 2017, the region still has much to do in deepening its economic integration.

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