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Latin Infrastructure Grows, But Lags Asia

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Latin America needs to show more strategic leadership in its infrastructure policies, a leading expert argues.

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

Latin America's commodity boom is helping drive the growth in infrastructure, but the region is still spending eight times less on infrastructure than China, a leading expert says.

"Anything related to commodities is driving projects, and driving opportunities," says Norman Anderson, president and CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure, a U.S.-based consultancy. "Latin America is in its fifth year of an unparalleled economic expansion.  This expansion is primarily driven by global commodity prices, but with average growth in the 5 percent range there is enormous significant investment in ports & logistics, electricity generation, highways and continued investment in digital infrastructure. "

Latin America invests on average only 1.5 percent of GDP in infrastructure.”The countries of the region need to recognize that, even though the level of infrastructure investment is rising, they need to work more closely together on projects like Latin American integration - the IIRSA project, for example - because China invests 8 times more in infrastructure per year, and India 4 times [more]," Anderson says.

INFRASTRUCTURE FORUM

CG/LA Infrastructure is organizing its sixth annual Latin American Leadership Forum in Miami in April to bring together governments and infrastructure, finance and other companies. The conference will highlight 50 strategic infrastructure projects from 17 countries in Latin America at a total value of between $40 billion and $50 billion.

"We feature projects for which there is immediate demand, because these are projects that are going forward - the São Paulo ring road, the Panama Canal, Colombia's port of Buenaventura and Valparaiso in Chile - but we are also focused on identifying critical projects that will both sustain this growth, and create wide opportunities for people," Anderson says.  

Other major projects at the conference include the $7 billion Baja California multimodal project, the $4.5 billion Madeira Hydro Complex in Brazil, the $2.5 billion Valley of Mexico Wastewater project, the $2 billion Linea 12 Metro Project in Mexico, the $1.5 billion Cedae 2020 Water Project in Brazil, $the 1.5 billion development of the Cap Cana tourism resort in the Dominican Republic, the $950 million Americo Vespucio East Highway in Chile and the $600 million metro in Dominican capital Santo Domingo.

BIG OPPORTUNITIES

Anderson sees great potential, and necessity, in water/wastewater treatment; electricity generation - the region is confronting a severe fuels crisis, Anderson point out - and urban mass transit, which can alleviate congestion and create new opportunities for work.  "The region also has a tremendous opportunity to emerge as a great laboratory for new energy generation," he argues.  



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