NEW YORK – The uncertainty over the trade war between the United States and China and over a potential global recession are causing concern in Latin America, the economy of which is slowing with growth forecasted to be just 0.5 percent this year.
This combined issue was the subject of the first panel discussions at the Global Forum Latin America and Caribbean 2019 being held in New York City with the participation of some 40 experts in public policy, international relations and economics.
The first day of the forum focused on the different socio-economic trends and views both of the global economy in general and the Latin American economy in particular and on the challenges to public order and security in contemporary democracies.
The panelists shared their concerns over how a potential world recession would impact the region and their fears regarding the uncertainty surrounding trade tensions between the US and China.
“The region is decelerating, we expect growth of 0.5 percent, no more, which is very low,” said Daniel Titelman, the head of the economic development division for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and one of the speakers at the session.
“In social terms, many of the achievements that had been attained in terms of improvements in income distribution, poverty reduction, regrettably have stalled, and thus one of the challenges is how to defend those gains,” he said.
Although ECLAC estimates that in 2018 poverty diminished slightly in the region, extreme poverty figures remained unchanged, according to what Titelman said in his presentation.
“Trade is decelerating, it decelerated in 2018, entered into a contraction in 2019, which removed growth engines from the economy,” said Paolo Giordano, an economist with the Inter-American Development Bank.
He said that the two big keys for the region are the diversification of production and markets.
Participating in the panel on socio-economic perspectives for Latin America were Otaviano Canuto, an economist with the Center for Macroeconomics and Development, Gonzalo Paz, a Georgetown University researcher, and former US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez.
Meanwhile, in the panel devoted to the challenges to public order and security, the speakers agreed on the need to have security forces that are not only effective but also democratic.
On that subject, political scientists Paola Gonzalez and Liliana Mesias Garcia presented the IDB report titled “Police Transformation in Latin America by 2030.”
“In Latin America, a revolution in police doctrine still has not occurred. We’re preserving the police ethos, in training, a military view,” said Mesias Garcia.
Also participating in the panel were Maria Haberfeld, the Police Studies program director at the New York Police Department, and Karelia Villa Mar, an expert in modernization of the state and the head of the IDB’s Citizen Security and Justice Cluster.
Both said that the level and quality of training in police forces in the region is important.
“In the region, regrettably they are very different. We have police with training of up to three years, police with training levels of three months,” Villa Mar said.
“It’s not enough to say ‘so many police for every 100,000 residents’ if we don’t know what quality of police are operating in the country,” she added.
On Friday, the last day of the forum, academics, former heads of state and ex-officials from different countries in the region will discuss the “electoral super-cycle in Latin America,” which will end in 2019 with elections in Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia.
The forum is being held at the Union League Club in New York City and is organized by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD), Fundacion Global Democracia y Desarrollo (Funglode) and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) with the support of ECLAC, the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, the Institute of Latin American Studies of Columbia University and the Central American Integration System.