During the period 1960-1980 Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a positive economic performance that positioned the region as a benchmark for growth and destination of foreign capital. Until 1981, low interest rates, favourable terms of trade and generous international lending created a climate of abundance and optimism.

However, from 1982 on, interest rate hikes and imbalances in the trade balance triggered a crisis that lasted until the early 1990s. During this time, the debt burden became unsustainable, the level of productive activity plummeted, and real wages contracted because of widespread inflationary processes. All this led to an unprecedented stagnation of output per capita and a reversal of the economic and social indicators known in literature as “the lost decade of Latin America and the Caribbean”.

This crisis meant not only strong instability, but also a long period of adjustments and reforms focused on laying the foundations for sustainable economic growth. Fundamentally, the measures focused on reducing government spending to consolidate public finances, facilitate the return of capital, and initiate a marked process of trade opening that would drive insertion into international economic circuits.

This last policy area would not only improve the trade balance and expand target markets, but also deepen the process of structural change to increase the levels of regional productivity and competitiveness.

However, there was little progress and at present, in Latin America and the Caribbean, many of these challenges are still pending tasks within a global context that is continually undergoing profound transformations.

Proof of this is the fragility of the economic performance evidenced by the fall in commodity prices in 2014 and the region’s lack of capabilities to recover leveraged in alternative productive activities.

Faced with this, discussions for the design and implementation of policies that paved the way for the region towards a path of more growth revived, putting at the centre of reforms the needs for technological innovation and productive diversification to scale up at the links of global supply chains.

However, the results of these efforts have not been as expected. In 2019, economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean averaged just 0.6% because of the low levels of productivity, international trade tensions, falling commodity prices and low export complexity.

Amid this challenging context, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean face the worst economic crisis since statistical records of national accounts began in the 1950s. Estimates of major international organizations have predicted that by 2020 the regional economy will fall by -9.4% and 15% of formal jobs will be lost.

Due to this profound fall in activity, alarms have already been raised about the emergence of a “new lost decade for Latin America and the Caribbean” between 2015 and 2025, bringing with it serious economic and social consequences.

However, unlike the debt crisis of the 1980s, the affectation of all countries on the planet in the current circumstances will result in the generation of significant changes in international economic dynamics, requiring a process of reflection by the countries of the region in order to rethink their role as global players.

In particular, the changes in the dynamics of international trade and value chains could provide opportunities for further internationalization and rethink regional integration. The difficulties of these turbulent times can become catalysts for consensus, to undertake an agenda of actions that will definitely allow us to overcome of pre-existing and pandemic challenges.

  1. Assess the persistence of the consequences of the current crisis on the macroeconomic fundamentals of the countries of the region.
  2. Discuss the prospects for the reorganization of global value chains and the challenges this poses to Latin American and Caribbean countries.
  3. Recognize the main guidelines that a structural reform agenda must incorporate in order to drive rapid and sustainable recovery.
Information on the event

Target: Actors from the public and private sectors and academicians.

Format: 90-minute Conference (60 minutes for presentations and 30 minutes for questions and answers) to be held virtually the CISCO-WEBEX platform.

Date and time: Thursday, 27 August at 10:00 am, Venezuela time.

Central topics

During this virtual seminar, the main consequences of the current economic crisis will be dealt with in a comparative context with the Latin American crisis experienced in the 1980s. Based on this diagnosis, the main guidelines that a structural reform agenda should contain for recovery will be outlined, with emphasis on the challenges posed by changes in international trade and value chains.

  • Changes in the macroeconomic fundamentals of the countries of the region due to the current crisis.
  • Key regional challenges to its recovery.
  • Transformations of global value chains.
  • Challenges to regional trade and integration.
  • Elements that a structural reform agenda must contain.

Opening session

10:00 – 10:10 Opening speech by Ambassador Javier Paulinich, Permanent Secretary of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA)

Presentations and dialogue with panellists

Moderators: Ambassador Oscar Hernández, Director of Relations for Integration and Cooperation of SELA and Dr. Sebastian Nieto, Head of Latin America and the Caribbean Unit at OECD Development Centre

  • Adriana Arreaza Coll, Director of Macroeconomic Studies of CAF-development bank of Latin America
  • Juan Blyde, Leading Economist of the Integration and Sector of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
11: 10 – 11:40 Questions and Answers / Comments

Dr. Adriana Arreaza Coll

She currently serves as Director of Macroeconomic Studies at CAF-development bank of Latin America, where she coordinates the countries’ economists’ team and contributes to the agency’s research publications. She is also Assistant Professor at the School of Economics of the Andrés Bello Catholic University (UCAB) in Caracas, Venezuela. She previously worked in the Research Department of the Central Bank of Venezuela. She graduated as Economist at UCAB and has a Ph.D. in Economics from Brown University.


Dr. Juan Blyde

He is Leading Economist in the Integration and Trade Sector of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Areas of research of his interest include the relationship between trade and productivity of firms, trade and transportation costs and value chains. Before joining the IDB, he worked in the Office of Economic Advisory of the Congress of Venezuela. Blyde graduated as an economist at Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (Venezuela) and has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado in Boulder.


América Latina y el Caribe quince años después: De la década perdida a la transformación económica 1980-1995 (CEPAL, 1996)

¿Por qué una integración fragmentada dificulta la producción internacionalmente fragmentada?. Artículo publicado en el blog “Más allá de las fronteras” del BID: Blyde, Juan (2018)

Fábricas sincronizadas: América Latina y el Caribe en la era de las cadenas Globales de Valor. Informe especial sobre Integración y Comercio: Blyde, Juan; Volpe Christian; Molina, Danielken (BID, 2014)

Pandemias: llegó la hora de que América Latina exporte telemedicina. Artículo publicado en el blog “Más allá de las fronteras” del BID: Blyde, Juan (2020)

RED 2006: Camino a la transformación productiva en América Latina: Castilla, Luis Miguel; Manzano, Osmel; Pineda, José; Arreaza, Adriana; Arencibia, Jennifer; Duque, Gabriel; Rios, Germán; Scandizzo, Stefania; Ortega, Daniel (CAF, 2006)

RED 2012: Finanzas públicas para el desarrollo. Fortaleciendo la conexión entre ingresos y gastos: Sanguinetti, Pablo; Berniell, Lucila; Álvarez, Fernando; Ortega, Daniel; Arreaza, Adriana; Penfold, Michael (CAF, 2012)

RED 2013: Emprendimientos en América Latina. Desde la subsistencia hacia la transformación productiva: Sanguinetti, Pablo; Brassiolo, Pablo; Arreaza, Adriana; Berniell, Lucila; Álvarez, Fernando; Ortega, Daniel; Kamiya, Marco (CAF, 2013)

Unclogging the Arteries: The impact of Transport Costs on Latin American and Caribbean Trade. Informe especial sobre Integración y Comercio: Mesquita, Mauricio; Volpe Christian; Blyde, Juan (BID, 2008)