Latin America ripe for investment in new technology, officials say at the Annual Investment Meeting


Latin American countries are transforming from agrarian economy to industrial ones and their potential lies in the digital transformation, officials told delegates at the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) concluded on Wednesday.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Latin America and the Caribbean declined 7.9 percent in 2016 compared with 2015, totalling $167.043 billion, representing a 17 percent fall from the $209 billion peak reached in 2011, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said.

“Following the recent reforms and liberalisation moves, Cuba has seen an unprecedented tourist inflow, jumping from 500,000 tourists in the 1990s to an expected 5 million in 2018,” Cuban First Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade Investment Antonio Carricarte, said. “We currently have 70,000 hotel rooms and we need to add 100,000 hotel rooms in Cuba to meet the growing demand for the tourist inflow.

“We also have a very strong medicine and healthcare human resource base and we are now witnessing a shift in our economy to embrace new technology-based industries, such as medicine, genetic engineering and medical equipment.

“However, 70 percent of the income comes from the tourism industry and we are now planning to create a synergy between tourism and healthcare – to promote health tourism. We have seen an increase in revenue from health tourism to US$60 million, up from a very low base.

“So, there is a huge potential for investors to benefit from.”

Mario Cimoli Director of the Production, Productivity and Management Division and Officer-in-Charge of ECLAC's International Trade and Integration Division, said, despite a decline in the foreign direct investment in to Latin America, investment in manufacturing, services, renewable energy and digital economy is increasing.

“Latin America is undergoing a paradigm shift in its approach to develop economies. The economy of the future will be dictated by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, big data, robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber security, internet of things, etc and we are seeking greater FDI in these areas.

“The region is transforming from agrarian to the digital economy.”

Pilar Madrigal, Head of Investment Promotion and Aftercare, Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE), said, her country has already seen part of this transformation.

“Costa Rica attracts about $3 billion FDI every year and 50 percent of that goes to the free zones. Of that, 86 percent are re-invested in our economy,” Pilar Madrigal, said. “We had earlier seen a lot of investment in electronics industry – which goes through a cyclical phase and then we wanted to focus on a more stable industry – the medical equipment manufacturing.

“Now more than half of the world’s top medical devices manufacturers have their production facilities in our country. We are now seeing a convergence among these industries with the new industries – the digital economy. So, in the healthcare, we are witnessing the evolution of the e-health sector – the digital healthcare industry.

“We see these developments very natural and a way to transform the economy into digital economy. Latin America is an emerging economy and we have developed the ability to attract a larger share of the global FDI.”

The three-day Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) congregation of high-profile officials that include 25 federal ministers, 19 mayors, eight organisation heads, one head of parliament and investors will see the signing of a number of agreements and announcements that will help countries boost the flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

This will make the AIM the largest such gathering of government leaders and private sector business leaders and investors, organised by Ministry of Economy. Last year, more than 19,000 visitors including VIPs, dignitaries and government delegations participated at the three-day conference. This year More than 20,000 investors and business visitors are expected to participated at the eventful three-day-long activities that will address issues related to global follow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Governors and Mayors from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ukraine, Mayor of the Municipality of Timisoara, Romania, Governor of Kano State, The Federal Republic of Nigeria, Governor of the Perm region of Russian Federation, Mayor of Municipality of Adjovscina, Republic of Slovenia, Metropolitan Chief Executive of Republic of Ghana, Governor of Kilifi County Government, the Republic of Kenya and many other governors and mayors from Ecuador and other countries are going to attend AIM 2018.

More than 143 countries participate in the eighth session of the Forum and about 20 thousand investors and visitors from around the world.

A number of global ministers, inspiring business and thought leaders will lead interesting discussions on investment trends, public-private partnerships, sustainability, investment promotion, cryptocurrencies, and sovereign wealth fund at the forthcoming Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) to be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 9 to 11, 2018.