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GE Official: Corruption the Enemy

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Corruption and insuffiicient infrastructure and education are key challenges for foreign multinationals in Latin America.

BY JOACHIM BAMRUD

CARTAGENA -- Corruption is the main enemy in Latin America and should be fought as such by local governments, urged a key official at US-based General Electric.

"Corruption is always a threat to development," Ferdinando “Nani” Beccalli-Falco, President and CEO of General Electric International, told the World Economic Forum Latin America here today. "I'm appealing to the governments of Latin America to fight the enemy of economic development."

While his speech also touched on other challenges such as energy and education, he received widespread applause when he touched on the subject of corruption.

Beccalli also said that Latin America needed to address both energy and education deficiences, stating that one without the other was not enough to emulate developed countries. 

He also echoed remarks by other speakers, including host President Alvaro Uribe, that Latin America needed to replace statist policies with more liberalization. "Let's get rid of some of these old-fashioned limits to growth," he said.

SABMiller Graham Mackay also highlighted education as a major challenge for doing business in Latin America, along with infrastructure and productivity. But overall, he expressed his company's commitment to the region. "We're backing this region to succeed," he said. "Latin America is actually making good progress."

Baccalli pointed to the relatively minor impact the global crisis had on Latin America. he recalled traveling to Latin America from the United States at the end of 2008. "It was like going to the moon," he said.

Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum , predicted that Latin America would see a V-shaped recovery this year. "This speaks to the resilience of Latin American economies," he said.

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