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Marisol Argueta de Barillas

MEXICO - Economy

Grab the Horns

Senior Director, Head of Latin America, World Economic Forum


Marisol Argueta de Barillas attended Oxford University, and later continued her studies at New York University and Harvard University in a variety of fields, including Diplomatic Studies, Humanitarian Law, and Conflict Resolution, and Development. Her previous positions include Vice-President of Interpublix, Minister of Foreign Relations for El Salvador, and Alternate Representative of El Salvador to the UN, as well as a number of other public and academic positions. She is currently Senior Director, Head of Latin America at the World Economic Forum.

The 2012 World Economic Forum on Latin America was held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Why was this year important for the country and the region? Mexico has the second largest […]

The 2012 World Economic Forum on Latin America was held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Why was this year important for the country and the region?

Mexico has the second largest economy in Latin America and acquired more prominence in global affairs as Chair of the G20 in 2012. The context of Mexico’s Chair of the G20 and hosting the G20 summit, together with Brazil hosting the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+ 20), have been unprecedented opportunities for Latin America to take on a leading role in global issues. Despite the current international economic context, Mexico has proven to have a dynamic and resilient economy and has continued to receive significant flows of FDI in diverse sectors. A similar positive economic trend has been experienced by some other Latin American economies. Both regional conditions and positive trends, together with the region’s stance in the international scene, have put Latin America in a relevant position in 2012.

How would you assess the outcome of the event?

It was extremely successful. We convened more than 850 leaders from business, government, international organizations, academia, and civil society from over 70 countries, setting a record for the number of participants and in their diversity for a regional meeting on Latin America. There was also a positive response acknowledging the relevance of Mexico and Latin America in world affairs, since the meeting was an important milestone in the process leading up toward the G20 summit at Los Cabos. The key priorities for the Mexican presidency of the G20 were mapped by the Mexican government, and the World Economic Forum contributed to this with the creation of multi-stakeholder task forces on the eight priorities outlined by the B20, including green growth, food security, transparency, trade and investment, innovation and ICT, financing for development, and the creation of an advocacy group that will ensure continuation between one G20 presidency and the next.

What key economic priorities have been identified for Latin America?

While the dynamism and financial resilience of Latin American economies have been acknowledged, a broad consensus about the importance of introducing more innovation in Latin America was clear, as well as other challenges—such as the need to increase productivity, modernize infrastructure, simplify governmental procedures, and promote wider hemispheric integration—and obstacles preventing Latin America from reaching its full potential. Other acknowledged priorities are the need for improved education and training, together with public security issues and the need to strengthen institutions and ensure a firm rule of law to offer both legal and physical stability in the long term. Creative policies must be implemented to foster a path toward societal growth while building on the wealth of human capital in Latin America.

How important do you believe public-private partnerships (PPPs) will be for the development of the country going forward?

I am sure that PPPs will be an important catalyst for the economy. However, it will not only be significant for large infrastructure, energy, and connectivity projects as traditionally conceived, but also for other less evident areas such as health care and education. I believe there is significant opportunity to work through PPPs to achieve social agenda goals. A great example of this is the Mesoamerican Health Initiative launched in the Forum’s meeting in Puerto Vallarta—it has brought together the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carlos Slim Health Institute, the IADB, and the Government of Spain as donors to contribute to maternal and child health in Central America and the southern states of Mexico.



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