Doing business in Latin America

  • Hermione Greenhalgh

Cristina Cortes, Canning House CEO, and José Manuel Restrepo, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism of Colombia discuss doing business in Latin America.

What are the factors stagnating economic growth in Latin America? How can the region increase competitiveness and efficiency? These were some of the questions addressed in the panel event “Doing business in Latin America”, part of the first annual Colombian symposium, organised by the LSE Colombian Society.

The panelists included Cristina Cortes, Canning House CEO; José Manuel Restrepo, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism of Colombia; and Daniel Linsker, Senior Partner at Control Risks Mexico. The discussion was chaired by Andrés Velasco, Dean of the School of Public Policy and Former Minister of Finance of Chile.

Following a keynote from the Minister, which gave a detailed overview of the economic environment in Latin America, the discussion focused on some of the challenges in the region. Cristina Cortes attributed UK hesitation over doing business in Latin America to be linked to historical unfamiliarity with the region, and also a perception problem.

To overcome some of these issues, the speakers pointed to the importance of investing in creative industries, diversifying higher education institutions, developing initiatives to formalise the economy, improving regional supply chains and taking full advantage of trade agreements, among other possible solutions.

A lively Q&A touched on other challenges Latin America and UK businesses are up against, including security, climate change and Brexit. The overwhelming impression the panelists gave was optimistic. Latin America has a number of fast-growing sectors that promise to make it more competitive on the world stage. Equally, increasing British interest in Latin American music, food and culture is gradually challenging outdated perceptions of the region.

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