Latin America’s planned development projects present myriad lucrative opportunities for foreign investment, including private-public partnerships to support multi-billion dollar projects in logistics, energy and infrastructure development, as well renewed trade agreements between the EU and Latin American countries.
This year’s fifth Latin American Investment Forum in London – which took place on June 15, and was organised by the Latin American Trade and Investment Association – focused on infrastructure and energy projects in the region, which are valued at more than $1000bn, and the huge opportunities they offer for foreign companies.
Hugo Swire, the UK's minister of state for foreign affairs, told hundreds of delegates at the conference that commerce between the UK and Latin America grew by more than 25% between 2010 and 2013, but that the government was determined to deepen links between the UK and Latin America even further. “We want to see the EU free trade agreements with Mexico and Chile refreshed, and 16 years after the first attempt, we want to finally see an EU-Mercosur deal,” he said. “Such a deal could boost GDP by more than £17bn [$27bn] annually.
“We also want to broaden our existing efforts to share our experience – positive and negative – of public-private partnerships to support the financing of energy and infrastructure projects.”
Speakers from a number of Latin American countries showcased the investment opportunities in their countries. Vinicius Vidal de Almeida, manager at the Brazilian state development bank (BNDES), said that the country had plans for infrastructure projects, including new railways, ports, airports and highways, worth more than $64bn in investment. “There has been a lack of infrastructure projects during the past 15 to 20 years,” he said. “Improving logistics is now the main challenge for the country; it’s the best way for us to enhance our productivity. The projects should also offer investors a good rate of return.”
Dr Paul Oquist, minister-private secretary for national policies for the presidency of Nicaragua, outlined details of the huge $50bn Nicaraguan canal and development project. The 278-kilometre waterway will connect Puerto Brito on the Pacific with Punta Aguila on the Caribbean, and is due to be completed by the end of the decade, allowing the passage of extra-large bulk cargo ships. The project includes a $6bn investment in a one million barrel oil storage and refining facility. The canal would be at the centre of a network of ports, roads, and a 4.3-square-kilometre free trade zone.
Dominic Hamilton, deputy minister of tourism for Ecuador, spoke about the success of tourism in the country, which saw its number of tourists rise by 14% last year. He said that 7000 kilometres of roads were being built or upgraded, and that the government was investing $300m in new railways.