Some 450 government and business leaders from 28 countries have gathered for the two-day Trade Americas & ConnectAmericas Expo -- an opportunity to explore ways to bridge
But speakers at the conference, which was organized by the
Relatively brisk economic growth in
Even though countries such as
To catch up to international standards, infrastructure investment rates in
The conference coincides with the IDB's launch of ConnectAmericas.com, an online business community where infrastructure developers can meet potential local partners, suppliers and service providers, said Fabrizio Opertti, project manager for ConnectAmericas and chief of the IDB's trade and investment unit.
On Thursday -- the second day of the
"I think it's fair to say there are opportunities everywhere," said
"One critical aspect is the growth in the middle class" and their demands for better roads, airports, rail transportation and so on, said Fernandez.
While the need is definitely there, "our biggest challenge is project execution," said
"We have determined the greatest single show-stopper" is lack of human capital, he said. Engineering and technical talent is especially needed in the region, Rodriguez said.
An impediment to more U.S. companies getting involved in regional projects, said Fernandez, is "there's still too much regulatory uncertainty."
Another problem that is taking a toll on
It's sometimes more expensive to move products within a country than to move them abroad, Aleman said. It's up to the private sector to educate governments on the importance of lowering the cost of moving cargo -- a concept they sometimes don't get, he said.
Making sure new infrastructure projects operate efficiently -- everything from investing in software to meticulous planning of big projects -- also creates business opportunities, he said.
For example, "a project of the magnitude of the Panama Canal expansion requires a lot of planning and that's an area of opportunity," Aleman said.
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