ERA Opens With Keynote Speech on Latin America

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MIAMI -- Ambler H. Moss, former U.S. ambassador to Panama and current director of the University of Miami's Dante B. Fascell North-South Center, opened the ERA Spring Meeting 2001 with a broad keynote speech on the economic conditions and emerging business trends in Latin America.

Moss, who is also counsel at the international law firm Greenberg Traurig, cited projected 2001 economic growth rates of 5.5 percent for Chile; 6 percent for the Dominican Republic; 4.3 percent for Brazil; and 4.2 percent for Mexico. He added that Mexico particularly has "done an extraordinary job positioning itself for trade" through memberships with both NAFTA and APEC.

In response to an attendee's question regarding the state of the middle class in Latin America, Moss said there was great disparity between the "haves and have nots," and he said Latin America was one of the most unequal regions in the world.

Moss also discussed how the drug trade in Latin America leads to money laundering in U.S. banks and restrictions on parcel carriers moving across the border. These problems are a hindrance to the direct marketing industry, which depends on solid credit infrastructure and home parcel services, he said.

With personal privacy becoming a rising concern among U.S. online and offline consumers, attendees inquired about privacy in Latin America. Moss said Latin America is much more proactive about personal data protection and privacy issues, which is the reason behind the success of Panamanian and Grand Cayman banks.

Moss said the United States must step up its role in trade leadership, adding that while there are 130 trade agreements, the United States is only party to two. One attendee asked whether Latin America might one day have a free trade arrangement similar to that of Europe. Moss said that while he anticipates agreements between specific markets such as Chile and Bolivia, he does not anticipate pacts across the entire region.

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