- Oscar Calvo González, Chief Economist for Central America, World Bank (keynote speaker)
- Alexandra Aguirre, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig LLP (moderator)
- Juan Carlos Paiz, Competitiveness Presidential Commissioner, Guatemala
- Osman Rodríguez, CEO, Telefónica Centroamérica
The World Bank's Chief Economist for Central America Oscar Calvo González kicked off a discussion about Central America integration by presenting an overview of global trade, showing that countries in the developing "south" have significantly increased their participation in international trade in the last decade by teaming up with adjacent markets and integrating economic interests and infrastructure. According to the economist, Central America has pontential for further integration since one-fifth of the region's trade takes place among Central American countries.
Calvo González also presented a transportation cost analysis of the region and said that improving infrastructure and logistics would boost trade, development, and job creation in all countries in the region.
During the discussion about regional integration, Guatemala's Competitiveness Presidential Commissioner Juan Carlos Paiz talked about Central American countries' internal debates about weighing sovereignty with integration, as well as the absence of effective regional institutions to implement change. Paiz talked about the lack of strong institutions as a challenge for Guatemala, explaining that the recent investment growth the country has experienced means more infrastructure development must take place.
As companies see pros of merging so do countries: Cent America together has population like Spain and 2 X GDP of Ecuador #guatenfoco
— Guillermo Zubillaga (@Guillermo_Z) August 14, 2014
Telefonica's CEO talked about the private sector perspective for advancing integration, looking at countries in the region as a single market to define the company's strategy. He recommended that Guatemala create a digital agenda for the country, which would facilitate integration with other countries.
— Jorge Ceballos (@kokiceballos) August 14, 2014
The panelists agreed that it is important to think about integration on the long term while accelerating infrastructure development. ICA International Business Development Manager Mauricio Medina talked about a railroad project in the country and the need to homogenize government trade operations to speed up border crossings.
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