Business opportunities and challenges in the decade of Latin America was the topic of the BRAVO Council held April 29 in Rio de Janeiro on on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Latin America.
Woods Staton, CEO of Argentina-based Arcos Dorados, was a guest speaker and was joined by Frank Holder, chairman for Latin America at FTI Consulting, and João Carlos Ferraz, director at Brazil’s development bank BNDES.
“I’ve been working in Latin America for more than 25 years,” Staton said. “I’ve never felt more positive than I do today. There’s a lot going on, starting with the governments [which] are more fiscally responsible [and showing more respect for the] rule of law. That’s great.”
Apart from Brazil, Staton singled out Colombia, Panama and Peru as strong growth economies. In terms of key challenges, education stands out, he said. “One of the key challenges we have in Latin America is education,” Staton said.
Holder concurred with Staton on the positive outlook for Brazil, Colombia, Panama and Peru, but he included Costa Rica on his list of the “hottest” economies in Latin America. In many other countries, however, investors have been deterred by inadequate protections for their investments, he said.
Meanwhile, corruption remains a major challenge throughout Latin America, he said. “We could grow much faster if not for those problems,” Holder said.
Holder also shared Staton’s optimism about Latin America’s economic outlook. “It would be very hard to imagine a scenario with a crisis like we had in the past,” he said.
Marcos Antonio Molina, CEO of Brazilian meat packer Marfrig Alimentos SA, said his greatest challenge was the weak U.S. dollar. The dollar has dropped 40 percent compared to the Brazilian real over the past two years.
About the Author: Joachim Bamrud is the executive editor of the Latin Trade Group and a former editor-in-chief of Latin Business Chronicle and Latin Trade magazine.