The Latin American Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland (Latcam) held its annual general meeting on June 30, 2016, in Zurich. This year Latcam welcomed Walter B. Kielholz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Swiss Re, as keynote speaker with a presentation on “Risk and (Re)insurance in Latin America.Reference was made that Latin America generated USD 158 billion of insurance premiums in 2015, up 4.6% in real terms and representing 3.5% of the global insurance market (USD 4.6 trillion). Mr. Kielholz characterized Latin America’s economic landscape as a multi-speed economic growth slowdown in which two broad groups of economies stand out with different macroeconomic fundamentals, Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay) with flat-to-negative economic growth and double-digit inflation, and Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru) with slow but stable growth, lower and contained inflation. Economic growth for the entire region is foreseen at a moderate 1.9% in the period 2015 – 2020 and 2.9% in the period 2020 – 2025. In the long run, strong macroeconomic fundamentals (institutional quality, sound policy frameworks, trade openness, diversified industrial bases, etc.) could sustain growth. Commercial insurance premiums between 2016 and 2025 are forecasted to grow by 4.9% per year in real terms, from USD 32 billion to USD 55 billion by 2025. Mr. Kielholz also made reference to the property protection gap in uninsured earthquake losses of 90% of total risk in Mexico, Chile, Peru and Brazil, and 85% in Ecuador, Colombia, and Uruguay, and which in the case of a risk event could damage for a long time the affected. Government representatives from Latin America and Switzerland, including Ambassadors of Peru, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Minister Philippe Nell, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and Catherine Scharf, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, were among the guests.
The Chamber’s President, Dr. Richard A. Friedl, presented the Chamber’s Annual Report 2015, where he gave a brief overview of some of the key developments in Latin America’s economic landscape and reviewed Latcam’s activities and operations in 2015. He informed that Claudio Boettcher, Zurich Insurance had been appointed by the board as the new Treasurer of Latcam, replacing Joaquín Fischer whom the board had appointed as new Managing Director.
Annual conferences such as the Latin American Day, the Mexican Forum and the Brazil Forum, as well as upcoming seminars on Peru, Colombia and Argentina attest to the Chamber’s important role as a platform for relationship-building between Switzerland and Latin America.