Calgary, Alberta
March 26, 2011

Archived - Chair’s Statement by the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance for Canada

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4th Meeting of Finance Ministers of the Americas and the Caribbean

Finance Ministers of the Americas and the Caribbean have just concluded a productive fourth annual meeting.

Canada's goals for this meeting were to strengthen the dialogue among our nations and take solid steps to strengthen the region's economic prospects.

These goals have been met.

Our meeting started last night with a Ministers-only working dinner that allowed us to have a frank exchange of views on the region's economic situation and current challenges.

These include rising food and commodity prices, growing and potentially volatile capital flows, the related impact on currencies, and the longer-term issues associated with an uneven global recovery.

While Latin America and the Caribbean have weathered the global economic downturn better than other parts of the world, and the outlook for 2011 is certainly positive, we all recognize that, given the range of countries in the region, there are divergent growth prospects.

The diversity of the group, though, is one of its great strengths, as we have the opportunity to share and learn from different perspectives.

To support our discussion of how to generate broader, more balanced economic growth, this morning began with a briefing by the multilateral institutions on the medium-term challenges and opportunities for the Latin American region.

We then discussed the policies, strategies, and infrastructure investments needed to increase regional integration.

Improved regional integration has particular potential to contribute to broader, more balanced growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.

We then had the benefit of a thought-provoking panel discussion during lunch on innovation and private sector development, as of course private sector-driven growth is our major objective.

Three Canadian panellists highlighted unique and imaginative approaches for stimulating private sector development, focusing on technology, high-level education and the delivery of international aid.

This afternoon, we focused on identifying concrete steps we can all take to expand trade within the region and improve the global competitiveness of our exports.

Specifically, we discussed ways to improve our regulatory frameworks to encourage more trade, and looked at options to improve cross-border infrastructure throughout the hemisphere.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean for producing the discussion material.

In addition, and building on the discussion today on the importance of stronger regional integration, Canada was pleased to announce a $5 million contribution to the IDB-managed Regional Infrastructure Integration Fund that will promote investments for greater infrastructure connectivity in the Americas and the Caribbean.

The fund will be dedicated to strengthening the infrastructure connecting nations throughout the Western Hemisphere, strengthening intra-regional trade and economic development.

Overall, I believe it was a fruitful meeting for the finance ministers in attendance, and a truly gratifying event for me.

The success of the meeting is due in no small part to the hospitality shown to us, and for that I thank the City of Calgary.