Representatives from various governments, multilateral organizations, businesses, and academic institutions gather in Cali, Colombia, today for the first of a three-day conference known as the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF). The ACF seeks to promote economic growth and innovation in the hemisphere. The sixth ACF is being organized by the Colombian Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism and is being hosted by President Juan Manuel Santos.
Guests include Organization of American States Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
The choice of Cali for the ACF underlines the successful transformation of this traditionally crime-stricken metropolis; crime rates have dramatically dropped to their lowest in 30 years. U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson, who will accompany Burns’ delegation, said: “the fact that all of us are coming together feeling secure and comfortable and excited about going to Cali […] is a tribute to the Colombian people and the Colombian government.”
Competitiveness is also an important pillar for rakings in The World Bank/ International Finance Corporation annual Doing Business report. Released this week, the report shows that Colombia has improved its regulatory environment the most in the past five years. Other Latin American countries like Costa Rica—which saw the greatest improvement in its overall ranking among countries in the region in 2011—as well as Chile, Peru and Mexico are also making steady progress toward more flexible and friendlier business environments.