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Established in 2010, the Canning Conference aims to identify trends and transformations in different commercial sectors in Latin America. This year the conference focused on infrastructure in Latin America, looking particularly at ports, airports, rail and metro.
Cristina Cortes, CEO of Canning House kicked off the conference, observing that the much-needed upgrades to Latin America's infrastructure present many opportunities for UK investors and infrastructure specialists.
James McKeigue, Managing Editor of LatAm INVESTOR, then gave an overview of the investment climate for infrastructure projects in Latin America. He noted that increased efforts to tackle corruption and innovative solutions to increase efficiency in projects have created more legal certainty, and more investor confidence. The overall picture he gave was optimistic; despite the various challenges – corruption being the biggest, Latin America presents a huge scale of investment opportunity in the infrastructure sector.
The first panel discussion focused on airports, highlighting that the market is growing, but with different needs. Over the last couple of decades Latin America’s airlines have seen strong growth in passenger numbers, helped along by the growing size and disposable income of the region’s middle classes. As a result, existing airport infrastructure has come under increased pressure. Excellent insights into some of the creative solutions to meet increased demand were give by Jose Puyana, representing the Colombian Embassy; Horacio Rossi, Mott MacDonald; and German Lleras, Steer Group. The discussion was chaired by Canning House Honorary Vice-President Jeremy Browne.
The audience then heard from Mark Menzies MP, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru; in conversation with Christopher Garnett, Principal, ChuteCourt Asesores Limited, about some of the biggest obstacles to British companies competing for, and winning, contracts in Latin America; and the future of trade relations with Latin America post-Brexit.
The second panel discussion centred on ports and free trade zones. Demand for port services is set to increase strongly, reflecting the region’s GDP growth, global trade trends, industrial diversification and modernisation, and the growth of logistics corridors. Daniel de Andrade Oliveira Barral, Brazil’s Secretary for Ports, Railways and Roads of the Special Secretariat of the Investment Partnership Program, spoke about Brazil’s approach to increasing competitiveness; acknowledging the importance of improving legal certainty, risk mitigation and the regulatory framework maturity level in order to attract private sector investment. Further insights were given by Gordon Rankine, Director of Beckett Rankine, and Lord Mountevans, former Lord Mayor and Honorary President of Canning House.
As well as airports and ports, two types of rail system are in demand. Long-haul freight rail systems are still needed to move large bulk commodities, and there is also growing demand for metros – light passenger-carrying urban or suburban rail systems designed to alleviate road congestion in the region’s main cities. Alberto Ñecco, ProInversión Peru; Rebecca Venn, Crossrail International; Graeme Inglis, Transport for London; and Camilo Gonzalez, EY; spoke about some of the opportunities for more UK-Latin America collaboration on projects.
The final panel elaborated on what the UK government is doing to support infrastructure investments in Latin America, and new and existing ways of financing infrastructure in the region with UK support. Valuable insights were given by Javier Encinas, Infrastructure and Projects Authority; Michele Dee, UKEF; and Donald McNeill, Department for International Trade.
After a lively Q&A, the conference concluded with a networking lunch and opportunities for one-to-one meetings. Find out more why Latin America is looking for UK specialists in particular >>
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