”The need for independent rating agencies has been a longstanding imperative in South America as agencies related to the neoliberal International Monetary Fund and the World Bank consider political and administrative peculiarities of these countries but they are politically motivated," Lia Valls Ferreira, a researcher with the Brazilian Institute for Economics said, adding that the emerging economies in Latin America needed “technically precise” agencies.
The expert admitted that an independent rating agency could provide a better vision for Latin America’s development in the long term.
Ferreira noted that, unlike the US Standard and Poor credit rating agency, which downgraded the country to BBB- in March, an independent institution could provide better assessments of investment prospects in the Brazilian economy.
The expert called on Mercosur countries to resume discussions and joint actions to work through the negative outlook for the region in 2015 predicted by US rating agencies.
A good investment environment, Ferreira claimed, was crucial to attract foreign investors to Latin American countries and thus to boost the region’s development.
Although investment in Latin American countries decreased in 2014 due to a weaker demand for the region's raw materials, experts note US' investors interest in Cuba.
Jorge Duany, a director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, admitted that US investors have recently turned their close attention to Cuba following the announced plans to lift the 50-year US embargo.
“There is intense activity in the US business community, an interest in exploring this market once the embargo is lifted. But in the meantime, there are a lot of opportunities in business sectors identified by President Obama – people selling agricultural equipment, construction materials, computers, the tourism industry, etc." Duany said.
According to the IMF estimates, Latin American economies are expected to grow by 2.2 percent in 2015, but the general outlook could be hampered by financial volatility caused by a spike in US interest rates.