In June 2020, Latin America became the new epicenter of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Beyond the social and health implications, the economic impacts in the region are already palpable: plummeting commodity prices, a significant drop in demand for tourism and transport services and disruptions in global industrial activity and the functioning of global value chains.
The implementation of measures to control the virus has been heterogeneous across the continent, since many livelihoods depend on the informal economy or on formal economic activities that provide daily wages. But despite the differences, some key productive sectors like automotive, leather products, textiles and clothing, and non-metallic minerals were affected across-the-board.
In many Latin American countries the focus has been on containing the negative impacts, particularly on the strong base of Micro, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), which operate often in informal markets and often cannot afford to halt their operations. But despite the efforts, it is foreseeable that the disruptions will have long lasting effects, particularly for the manufacturing sector. While the crisis affords an opportunity to promote innovation, firms and countries need to invest in the required technological and productive capabilities. Governments in the region will have to address investments in health, digital transformation and productive capabilities that can contribute to the strengthening of social and economic resilience.
The session explores what the challenges are of reviving the industrial and manufacturing sectors and transforming them to drive innovation and growth post-pandemic.