Creating an Inclusive and Sustainable Future for Latin America and the Caribbean

Global trade and investment in Latin America and the Caribbean can help economic growth as this region works toward a more inclusive, sustainable future.


Air Date: October 22, 2021

Moderator: Neil Herrington, Senior Vice President, Americas, Anne McKinney, Vice President, Americas, Isabel Quiroz, Executive Director, AACCLA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Abel Torres, Senior Director, Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation

Featured Guests: John Chris Inglis, National Cyber Director, Executive Office of the President

Both globally and in the Latin America and Caribbean region, there have been developments in trade and infrastructure over the past year, partly due to advancements in digital transformation and cybersecurity.

To discuss these advancements and what an inclusive, sustainable future looks like, the U.S. Chamber’s Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) brought in business and political leaders from both the U.S. and Latin America to discuss trends and insights regarding the region’s economy and policies.

Cybersecurity Continues to Play an Important Role in a Digitized Hemisphere

With the pandemic causing many businesses to quickly adopt digitization, cybersecurity has become even more important for businesses. Cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly more common, with ransomware data showing its use has increased by 10 times over the last year. Arturo Torres, Security Strategist for Latin America at Fortinet, offered solutions as to how businesses can protect themselves.

“We need to develop a recovery plan… [Using] professional email and web security tools can help you to inspect all the email attachments, all the websites and all the files, looking for malware or malicious behaviors,” Torres said. “Segmenting your network is a good way to stop or help you to not infect any devices if you have any infection in your network in one area.”

“The user awareness is key in ransomware or any other kind of malware attacks to dimension,” added Santiago Paz, Sectoral Specialist on Cybersecurity, Inter-American Development Bank. “People [are] and will continue working from their homes where the cybersecurity measures are not the same as in the enterprise. The user has a key role now ... to prevent this kind of attack because many times the user is the door through which the attack enters the company.”

Digital Transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean Requires Sufficient Capital

Mauricio Ramos, CEO of Millicom, looked at the digital transformation that is going on in Latin America and the Caribbean with optimism, describing his company’s investments in digital infrastructure and creating “digital highways.”

“The future of development for this region relies heavily on closing the digital divide that the region currently has,” Ramos said.

He went on to highlight the companies working to close these divides, including Millicom, describing how these developments will continue to require financing.

“It is us that are building the digital highways, putting up the capital, taking the risk, and making sure there's conductivity so that our economies can be connected to the fourth industrial revolution... to the big tech of the world.”

U.S. Economic Diplomacy in the Western Hemisphere Should Focus on Prosperity

Jose W. Fernandez, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, U.S. Department of State, discussed new developments that are helping to improve the Latin America and Caribbean infrastructure, such as the growth of 5G wireless networks.

“5G will form and transform the very foundation of a vibrant and secure global digital economy that closes the digital divide and allows all people and businesses to benefit as we build back better from the economic toll of the pandemic,” said Fernandez.

He elaborated on ways the Build Back Better World Initiative can improve society and help low and middle-income countries to grow and prosper. He discussed ways in which we can ensure inclusivity for marginalized groups when it comes to economic growth and being offered opportunities.

“If the region is going to recover fully, then we have to give everybody with an idea or with a dream the tools and support that they need to access the capital markets and networks that they need to start and to grow,” said Fernandez. “Economic opportunity has to be inclusive.”

Cross-Border Trade Between the U.S. and Latin America Can Yield Global Benefits

Gerry Schwebel, Executive Vice President at IBC Bank, looked at the tremendous benefits U.S.-Mexico cross-border trade can have on a global scale.

“In 2019, the movement of people and goods through the Texas-Mexico border generated over seven million jobs and more than $350 billion of GDP in both the countries of the United States and Mexico,” Schwebel said. “But by 2050, the economic impact of cross-border trade will increase to over 20 million jobs and nearly $1.2 trillion in GDP.”

He described the importance of using and maintaining ports as a way to facilitate trade to help businesses to grow bigger and improve the economy.

“It's important... that we have the adequate infrastructure to facilitate the flow of people and the flow of goods — that they flow securely and efficiently, and as fast as possible,” said Schwebel.