Panama, April 11, 2002 – The impact of major infrastructure projects in the economies of Latin America was discussed recently during the “Latin America 2002” colloquium, held this past weekend in Paris, France. The meeting was hosted by the French Center of Foreign Relations with support from the French Secretary of State for Foreign Commerce and the Office of Economic Relations of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry.

Interamerican Development Bank (IADB) President Enrique Iglesias opened the meeting by discussing threats to development in the Latin American region. The main discussion focused on the impact that large infrastructure projects could have on reactivating the Latin American economies, particularly concerning the development of the FTAA, the South American Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the Puebla-Panama Plan. In that regard, Panama Canal Administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta updated colloquium participants on the status of the Canal’s current studies to determine the feasibility of expanding the waterway. Given the Panama Canal’s strategic location in the hemisphere and its role regarding world trade, any major waterway expansion could have a significant effects on the region.

The meeting was attended by leading French intellectuals and analysts, and other speakers included Alain Touraine, Director of the School for the Advanced Studies of Social Sciences, Latin America Economic System Secretary Otto Boye Soto and IADB Interamerican Investment Society Director Jacques Rogozinski.