WASHINGTON, July 16, 2010 - World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick will participate in a regional integration summit with Central American heads of state in El Salvador July 19-20 before visiting Mexico July 21-23 for talks with President Felipe Calderon and Mexican officials on a range of topics including the Bank's support for Mexico's growing leadership in the climate change debate.
"Central America is a region of tremendous opportunities. I look forward to learning more about Central America's efforts to deepen regional economic integration, and expand economic growth, while also discussing ways that the World Bank Group can support sustained growth with opportunities for all," said Zoellick. "I appreciate President Funes' leadership in hosting this regional integration summit. He's right to see each country's success through the lens of the region's success."
Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to post 4.5 percent growth in 2010, with Brazil leading the recovery with a projected 6.5 percent expansion on account of strong commodity demand. Mexico's growth is projected to rebound to 4.5 percent, marking the fastest growth pace in almost a decade, while Central American economies will post a 2.7 percent growth for 2010.
In El Salvador, July 19-20, Zoellick will meet with President Mauricio Funes to discuss the Bank's El Salvador program. Zoellick will participate in the the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State of the Central American Integration System, a forum set up in response to President Funes' call for neighboring countries to jointly address their many common development challenges.
Zoellick, who in his former capacity as U.S. Trade Representative launched and negotiated the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), stressed the importance of connecting regional integration with the private sector. To that end a special parallel Forum will take place with a broad participation from private sector groups and civil society. The Forum will be moderated by a representative from the INCAE Business School and will report back on its conclusions to the heads of state.
Summit attendees include heads of state and top officials from the Central American Integration System (SICA) comprised of Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
The World Bank Group (WBG) supports Central America's development efforts through a diversified menu of programs, innovative financing and knowledge sharing adapted to the specific circumstances of each country, including disaster management. In fiscal year 2010, the World Bank provided US$859 million to support Central American economies in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
In addition, the World Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has made investment commitments of US$406 million in fiscal year 2010, a five-fold increase from FY07 (US$77 million). IFC sees regional integration as a strategic objective. In FY10 alone, IFC provided a total ofUS$61 million to four Central American companies in the manufacturing, hotel,retail and insurance industries to support cross-border investments.
During his Mexico visit Zoellick will meet President Calderon to discuss the country's strategic partnership with the Bank and seek ways to deepen its support to Mexico's growing international role in climate change issues, especially in light of the upcoming United Nations climate change COP16 conference to be held in Cancun later this year. Zoellick will also participate in a forum on "Global Trends and Latin America" at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).
"Mexico is a leading voice on economic and development issues, and we appreciate the strong partnership the World Bank has with President Calderon and the Mexican people," said Zoellick. "Our work with Mexico on its low carbon growth strategies and our support to the Clean Technology Fund program to transform urban transportation in five cities shows the depth of this partnership on the critical issue of climate change."
Mexico has the second largest World Bank portfolio in Latin America. During FY10 (July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2010) the WB approved 9 projects for a total of US$6.4 billion in health, education, transport, energy, water and economic policies. IFC has invested US$1billion projects ranging from microfinance, housing and health and education and promotes infrastructure development, particularly water and renewable energy. Recently, IFC helped arrange the financing of US$375 million for Eurus in Mexico, the largest wind farm in Latin America (250MW).