The other meeting in Latin America

Interamerican Development Bank 50th Anniversary Meeting in Colombia last month
Interamerican Development Bank 50th Anniversary Meeting in Colombia last month

The Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad included the much-publicized American initiative to open up to Cuba.  President Obama continued to present his new, more acceptable face of America, put forth with grace since his inauguration in January.  He even unleashed his charm offensive against Venezuela’s irascible and mercurial Hugo Chavez, joking and smiling with him for the cameras, united perhaps in their unrelenting criticism of Obama’s predecessor, though Obama never quite used the term “el diablo.”

Yet the less-publicized hemispheric meeting took place at the end of March in Medellin, Colombia, the occasion of the 50th anniversary meeting of the Board of Governors of the Interamerican Development Bank (the IDB or BID, according to its Spanish or Portuguese acronym), the regional multilateral lender that comprises 48 countries, 27 Latin American and Caribbean nations that borrow, and the rest, including the U.S., Asian and European countries, that lend.

The meeting, which included appearances by U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner and former U.S. President Clinton, concluded with a call by the Board for a capital increase to help member countries weather the global financial crisis.  Why not?  The IMF did so well at the G-20 meeting last month.  Of particular interest to readers are two research reports released by the IDB discussing the economic and social impact of the financial crisis on the economies of the region.  Likewise the IDB publishes LatinMacroWatch, data tables for 26 member countries.

China made its presence known, its first official presence at the IDB annual assembly, with a speech by its central bank governor and two of its state banks signing project finance agreements with the IDB.  My colleague Chris Herbert discusses China’s initiatives in the region in more depth in a recent Rising Powers post.

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