Colombia’s Cárdenas Leads the Way

Colombia’s Cárdenas Leads the Way

By: Nicholas O’ConnorAméricaEconomía

Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos and his government enjoyed a successful 2015. His persistence in negotiations with the FARC led to what looks to be a peaceful solution to a conflict that claimed the lives of thousands of Colombians and caused the displacement of thousands more.

His recent visit to the US also had positive results. Barack Obama pledged $450 million in aid in order to continue US support for Plan Colombia.  The successful initiative has been rechristened Peace Colombia and will look to solidify the achievements made since the inception of the first aid plan over 15 years ago.

Colombia’s stability has not gone unnoticed in Latin America either. AméricaEconomía Intelligence recently published the results of its Ranking of Latin American Finance Ministers for 2015. The ranking is constructed with input from the region’s top economists as well as the readers of the magazine. Mauricio Cárdenas, Colombia’s Finance Minister since 2012, was named in top spot. This comes as an improvement on his second place finish in 2014. Cárdenas performance stood out due to the steps he has taken in order to improve the country’s macroeconomic stability and to strengthen its financial institutions. The success is even more remarkable considering that oil production makes up a large part of Colombia’s economic output.

Chile’s Rodrigo Valdés came in in second place. The results show that his work is highly rated at an international level which comes as a slight contrast to how he is viewed locally. The Chilean economy continues to stutter as copper prices remain low. Last years poll topper, Panama’s Dulcidio de la Guardia, completes the podium. The growth of Panama’s economy continues to lead the region although there are some concerns over the continued delays related to the expansion of the canal.

Returning to the theme of Colombia, it must now be recognized that Plan Colombia was a success. Hundreds of millions of US dollars helped bring one of Latin America’s oldest democracies back from the brink of failure. Alvaro Uribe, President of Colombia from 2002 to 2007, played a key role in the process and will still have a key role to play in the country’s future. Unfortunately, current relations between Uribe and Santos are not fantastic. The former President has been vociferous in his criticism of his successor. It is important that the two learn to work together as both will be present at the heart of Colombian politics for the foreseeable future.

Cárdenas has been rumored to be a potential successor for Santos when his term finishes in 2018. An astute politician he has been a steadfast ally for Santos and has been openly showing his support for the President’s Austeridad Inteligente(Intelligent Austerity) policy that calls for a reduction of government expenditure. Cárdenas, eager to show his support, tweeted a photo of his economy class air ticket to Davos last month. If he can manage to keep Colombia’s economy ticking over during the next few years of low commodity prices, he will be well positioned by the time the 2018 elections come around. Many presume that he will have to face off against the aforementioned Alvaro Uribe. A tough task indeed, but his chances have been given a boost with this award.

AméricaEconomía is Latin America’s leading business publication. Its international edition is complimented by local editions based in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. In 2016 the magazine will launch a Central American edition with circulation in Panamá, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

AméricaEconomía is keenly read by a growing regional community of businessmen and businesswomen, entrepreneurs, executives and senior officials who need to understand the region from local, regional and global context.

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Miami, the Best City to do Business in Latin America

Miami, the Best City to do Business in Latin America

By: Nicholas O’ConnorAméricaEconomía

For many years AméricaEconomía Intelligence has published its ranking of the best cities to do business in Latin America. The detailed study takes various factors such as the city’s PIB, its PIB per capita and the presence of investment banks into account. Other important elements are the unemployment rate and the number of destinations that the city’s airport serves. Miami has long been included in the ranking due to the fact that a significant amount of Latin American companies have their head offices in Florida.

The other cities in the ranking face stiff competition, as Miami tends to receive top marks in nearly every category. Santiago de Chile is in second place with Mexico City coming in in third. Santiago managed to maintain its position due to the large presence of multinational companies in the city and its high score on the human capital index. The stability of the Chilean capital is its real strong point but environmentalists will be keeping an eye on the levels of pollution that have manifested themselves over the past few years. Smog has become a real problem for the city, which is situated in a bowl between the Andes and a coastal mountain range. The snowy peaks of the Andes are often hidden by a thick haze. Addressing this problem will be a big challenge for the city over the next decade.

Mexico City managed to move up past Sao Paulo and into third place. The economic crisis in Brazil has had a significant impact on the Brazilian cities in terms of how they are viewed as good places to do business. Sao Paulo dropped just the one spot on the table but Rio de Janeiro slipped five places to 14th. With the political and economic turmoil set to continue over the coming year it is unlikely that Brazilian cities will be nearing the top of next years ranking.

Due to the fact that Miami tends to steamroll the other cities in most categories it is interesting to examine the sections where Miami loses out to Latin American hubs. One area that stands out is suburban transport. The metro systems in Santiago, Mexico City and Sao Paulo provide hundreds of kilometres of underground rail networks, which manage to somewhat ease the pressure on their road systems. Unfortunately for Miami, southern Florida will never be an apt location for the construction of subways. A potential solution would be an upgrade of the over ground rail services currently available.

Another area where Miami is lacking is in the presence of global companies. AE Intelligence compiled a list of 37 global companies whose presence was deemed important in a city looking to attract business. Miami enjoys the presence of only 15 of those companies with Santiago and Mexico City hosting 23 and 27 respectively.  If one was to search for any faults it could perhaps be claimed that Miami is too focused on Latin America. However, for AméricaEconomía that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

AméricaEconomía is keenly read by a growing regional community of businessmen and businesswomen, entrepreneurs, executives and senior officials who need to understand the region from local, regional and global context.

 

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