IDB chief seeks more investment

Kyodo

Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno expressed hope Friday for increased infrastructure investment in Latin America from Japan and other major countries.

Referring to a meeting Thursday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Moreno said at a news conference that the two “had a chance to talk about the opportunities that exist in Latin America for Japanese businesses, especially in the area of infrastructure.”

Moreno, a former Colombian ambassador to the United States who took the helm of the Washington-based IDB in 2005, hailed an increase in trade and investment between Asia and Latin America, as well as Japan’s role as a “historically important shareholder” in the regional bank.

Moreno said Latin America is expected to post growth of around 3 percent this year, down from 4 to 4.5 percent in recent years due to a halt in commodity price increases and higher interest rates, among other factors.

Despite the downbeat forecast, he expressed confidence in the fundamentals of the Latin American economy. At the same time, he called for increased economic integration in the area, saying inter-regional trade accounted for 20 percent of the region’s total trade, lower than the levels of Asia and Europe.

Moreno, meanwhile, congratulated Abe for bringing “optimism” to the Japanese economy through his policy dubbed “Abenomics,” which involves aggressive monetary easing, hefty public spending and an economic growth strategy.

The IDB chief was in Tokyo to attend the two-day Japan-Latin American and the Caribbean Business Forum through Friday.