Ibero-American summit focuses on global crisis

 Leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal gathered Friday in Paraguay's capital to discuss the best way for their countries to withstand the effects of the global economic slowdown.

The economies of Spain and Portugal have been battered by the eurozone crisis, and Latin American economies are seeing the commodity export boom of the past years begin to lose steam.

"Our growth has been the result of solid macroeconomic policies ... and a good market for commodities, stimulated by a vigorous demand in Asia," said IberoAmerican Secretary Enrique Iglesias of Uruguay, the former head of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).

Nevertheless, Iglesias said in an opening address, Latin America should prepare to "decisively face the probable imbalances in Asia."

He also urged countries to not rely excessively on exports. "Countries with social justice are not built based on commodity exports," Iglesisas said.

Nine leaders, including outgoing Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, were at the summit.

Absent, however, were the leaders of economic powerhouses Brazil and Argentina, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, and several presidents from Central America.

Pamela Cox, a senior World Bank official for Latin America and the Caribbean, warned that if commodity prices drop "due to the crisis in Europe and the demand in countries like China is less, this will have an important impact in the region."

AFP

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