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William Hague answers questions at the LatAm Investment Forum 2013
Over 500 high-ranking executives from around the world participated in the third edition of the ‘Latin American Investment Forum’, LAIF 2013, which took place this Thursday 14th March at Guildhall.

The keynote speaker was Foreign Secretary William Hague, who highlighted the strong economic ties between the United Kingdom and Latin America and the opportunities the region has to offer for foreign investment.

For the third consecutive year, the City of London hosted the Latin American Investment Forum, LAIF 2013, an event that has established itself as the leading annual meeting on Latin American Investment and trade globally. LAIF 2013 took place this Thursday 14th March at Guildhall and was organised by the Latin American Trade & Investment Association (LATIA), whose members are the trade and investment agencies and commercial departments of Latin American embassies in the United Kingdom.

The keynote speaker was the Foreign Secretary, The Rt. Hon. William Hague MP, who highlighted the strong and consistent economic ties between the United Kingdom and Latin America, along with the increases in exports of British goods to the region of 12% in 2011, and 11% in 2012. He also emphasised the opportunities that the region has to offer for foreign investment. ‘Latin America is a huge market, one of the biggest markets in the world, with developing economies that are more open to foreign investment, and Britain is the most open economy in the world’, he said. ‘In these difficult times, investment in Latin America can boost the whole economy, so I would encourage British companies to invest there and tell them that their government is going to support them’, he added.

In addition, Alderman Roger Gifford, Lord Mayor of the City of London, called upon British companies to pay more attention to Latin America. ‘British companies are used to hearing about China or India, but they don’t understand the opportunities Latin America offers’, he explained. ‘That region is in a similar position to the one Asia had a couple of years ago, so we believe the future has enormous potential for Britain and Latin America’. Lord Mayor Gifford also announced that next July he will lead a trip to Latin America, in order to explore business opportunities in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Panama.

LAIF 2013 examined four major streams of investment opportunities in several panel discussions: ‘Energy and Extractive Industries’; ‘Infrastructure’; and ‘New Investment Trends in Technology and Innovation’. Ministers of State, ambassadors, trade attaches and corporate speakers from sixteen Latin American countries participated in these talks, exploring the economic potential underlying the relations between the United Kingdom and Latin America. There were also discussions about political and economic perspectives in the region and practical experiences in Latin American markets. Attendees benefitted from networking opportunities and had the chance to hold one-to-one meetings with specialists, and corporate and high-level government representatives from each country, consolidating opportunities for future investment in the region.

Latin America is recognised globally as one of the most attractive regions in which to invest and has one of the fastest GDP growth rates in the world. Moreover, despite the global economic crisis, investments into Latin America have followed an increasing trajectory each year since 2006, making it an excellent destination with which to do business. The main destinations for foreign direct investment are Brazil and Chile, followed by Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Central America, and Argentina. London is the financial capital of Europe and an important bridge to Middle East and Far East markets. It is increasingly drawing attention towards Latin America, a matter that represents a huge potential for the region.

The whole region offers excellent opportunities. For example, Argentina has great potential in wind energy, creative industries and food and beverage. Ecuador’s government invested an average of 8% of GDP between 2007 and 2012 on modernizing its infrastructure. Projects include the construction of the largest hydroelectric project in the history of the country, the biggest refinery of heavy crude oil, and the newly inaugurated airport of Quito which has the largest runway in Latin America. Guatemala offers various investment opportunities, particularly in sectors such as agribusiness, tourism, manufacture, call centres & BPO, energy, mining, oil & gas, and infrastructure, among others. It also has a 15-year plan to increase its infrastructure capacity through highways, airports and ports, creating full access to its market of 35 million.

The Dominican Republic recently entered into a partnership agreement with the world-renowned Pinewood Studios Group. A new state-of-the-art film and television facility will operate in the country, servicing the Caribbean, Southern and Central American markets, with their population of 580 million, as well as Hollywood and the rest of the world. Finally, by 2020 Chile will require an additional power capacity of 8,000 MW to satisfy its increasing demand for electricity, which has been driven by the successful economic growth of the country. Coupled with its healthy business climate, steady growth, and stable institutions, the need to diversify the Chilean power matrix with cleaner and more renewable energy makes this country a very attractive location for investment.

LATIA is an independent not-for-profit organisation established by the trade and investment agencies and embassy commercial offices of 16 Latin American countries. LATIA coordinates and promotes Latin America’s economic sector, aiming to attract foreign direct investment, boost exports and promote bilateral trade between Latin America, the UK and the wider European Union.

For additional information and sponsorship opportunities for LAIF 2014, please contact: info@latia.org / henning.droege@guatemalanembassy.co.uk / clopez@prochile.gob.cl / ignaciopereyra@argentine-embassy-uk.org / jbermudezr@proecuador.gob.ec

Read William Hague MP, Keynote address at the Latin America Investment Forum