Photo: Healthcare initiative in LatAm (IDB)
The economies of Latin America and the Caribbean have performed strongly in the face of a challenging external environment, Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno said, but the region needs to continue to pursue key reforms to ensure growth in the future.
He noted that Latin America´s unemployment rate is at a historic low and over the past decade 58 million citizens of the region have risen above the poverty line. One in three Latin Americans is now part of the middle class.
The region, boosted by high commodity prices, continued to grow its trade with the world. Trade with Asia has been especially noteworthy, growing at a 20 percent annual rate since 2000 to total an estimated $442 billion in 2012.
However, many challenges remain. Sixty-six million Latin Americans earn too little money to meet their daily needs. And trade among Latin American and Caribbean countries is still too low, at 19 percent of overall trade, presenting a strong growth opportunity looking ahead.
Moreno said the IDB continued on its path to build best practices into its operational and administrative management, bolstering transparency, accountability and financial mechanisms. He said it was now standard practice at the IDB to assess whether projects can measure their expected results using rigorous evaluation methods during their preparation phase.
The IDB in 2012
In 2012, the IDB approved new financing mechanisms to help countries cope with natural disasters and safeguard the effects of economic crises.
The IDB approved 170 operations in 2012 for a total of $11.5 billion. This included 44 projects for non-sovereign guarantees, which finance private sector projects, for $1.5 billion. Reflecting strong demand for IDB products and services, average approvals have nearly doubled over the past five years in relation to the previous five years. A full 44 percent of the approvals went to small and vulnerable countries, and nearly half went to infrastructure projects.
The IDB also provided $871 million in grant financing—up 29 percent from 2011—with growing contributions by member countries to create aclimate fund for the private sector and provide additional resources for the Mesoamerican Health Initiative, Clean Technology Fund, Multidonor Fund for Regional Integration Initiatives, and the Transparency Fund.