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Latin Outlook: CEO Perspective

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How do the Latin America heads of prominent multinationals see the outlook in the region next year?

BY JOACHIM BAMRUD

 

Latin America will face serious challenges in 2009 – especially tighter credit and cost-cutting  – but the region is now in better shape than it has been during previous crisis and still offers good opportunities, according to Latin America division heads of leading U.S. and European multinationals surveyed by Latin Business Chronicle.

No country anywhere can completely escape the effects of the economic slowdown, even if that country possesses abundant natural resources or enjoys internal prosperity,” says John Slater, vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean for U.S.-based Continental Airlines.

However, several executives also argue that Latin America is in better shape than ever to face the crisis.
”Latin America is an "expert" when dealing with crises and moving forward,” says Fernando Garcia, vice president for Latin America for U.S.-based American Power Conversion (APC).  “Compared with previous crises originated internally, this time it is a crisis provoked by the international contagion and not by inherent problems in Latin America.  In general, Latin American economies are quite healthy and that can speed up a recovery.”

BETTER PREPARED

There are two key elements that will help the economies of countries in Latin America face the current economic downturn, argues Hernan Rincon, Latin America president for U.S.-based Microsoft, the world’s largest software producer.  The first is that countries in the region have, and are maintaining, sufficient foreign reserves to endure current conditions. Secondly, inflation in the majority of the countries has been stable and under control.  “The current economic situation is definitely impacting all industries in the region and throughout the world,” he says. “Nevertheless, Latin America has maintained in recent years good macroeconomic conditions that will allow for a faster recovery from this current environment, compared to previous crisis that have impacted Latin America.”

While there clearly are several challenges that will face companies operating in Latin America in 2009, tighter credit tops the list, according to our survey.

The biggest challenge facing many companies in Latin America will be access to credit,” says Leo Rodriguez, president of Latin America for U.S.-based Emerson and Emerson Process Management. “How will they fund growth or...



Keywords: APC, Continental Airlines, DHL, Emerson, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Nokia, Novartis, SAP


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