Central America Economic Progress and Reforms, Edited by Dominique Desruelle and Alfred Schipke
Occasional paper 257: Economic Growth and Integration in Central America, Edited by Dominique Desruelle and Alfred Schipke
Central American Monetary Council
Central Bank of Costa Rica

Seventh Annual Regional Conference on Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic

Central American Monetary Council, Council of Finance Ministers, and International Monetary Fund
Hosted by the Central Bank of El Salvador
Radisson Plaza Hotel, San Salvador
June 26–27, 2008

These annual meetings of finance ministers, central bank governors, financial sector superintendent, IMF management and staff, and representatives from other international financial institutions have become an important policy forum to address key issues facing the region. In addition to fostering a candid exchange of views, the conferences' aims are to search for practical and concrete policy solutions, identify areas where increased regional cooperation may be warranted, and highlight related technical assistance needs.

This year’s conference focused on three important topics: (i) global shocks and implications for policymaking in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic; (ii) the benefits and challenges of the increasing presence of large foreign banks in the region; and (iii) the evolution of tax structures in the context of increased integration. Conference participants also discussed the establishment of a regional technical assistance center. The event was not open to the public but concluded with a Communiqué.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

12:30–2:00 p.m. Informal Lunch
2:15–2:30 p.m. Opening Remarks

Luz María Serpas de Portillo, President, Central Bank, El Salvador

Murilo Portugal, Deputy Managing Director, IMF

  Introductory Remarks

Elías Antonio Saca González, President of the Republic, El Salvador

  Begin of closed session—media withdraws
2:45–4:15 p.m.

Session 1: Food Crisis, Oil Price Hikes, U.S. Slowdown: How to Respond?


Being a net importer of cereals and oil, Central America is strongly affected by current commodity price movements. In addition, the region is vulnerable to the U.S. slowdown, its main export market, source of remittances, and foreign direct investment. Faced with these challenges, this session will analyze the implications of these shocks and discuss policy options.

Chair: Murilo Portugal, Deputy Managing Director, IMF


Francisco de Paula Gutiérrez, President, Central Bank, Costa Rica

David Robinson, Deputy Director, and Dominique Desruelle, Division Chief, Western Hemisphere Department, IMF


4:15–4:45 p.m. Coffee break
4:45–6:15 p.m.

Session 2: International Banking in Central America


The structure of financial systems in Central America has significantly changed in the last two years, following the purchases of important domestic banks by large foreign financial institutions. This session will examine the benefits of this profound transformation for the stability and efficiency of domestic financial systems as well as the challenges it poses for policymakers and supervisors alike.

Chair: Antenor Rosales, President, Central Bank,  Nicaragua


Jaime Caruana, Director, and Carlos Medeiros, Division Chief, Monetary and Capital Markets Department, IMF


Edgar Barquín, President, Central American Council of Financial Sector Superintendents and Superintendent, Guatemala

Hector Alexander, Minister of Finance and Economy, Panama

Edwin Araque, President, Central Bank, Honduras

Luis Armando Montenegro, Superintendent, El Salvador


7:30–8:00 p.m. Reception
8:00–10:00 p.m. Dinner
  Keynote speaker: Agustín Carstens, Secretary of Finance and Public Credit, Mexico
Friday, June 27, 2007
8:00–9:30 a.m. Breakfast: Central American Regional Technical Assistance Center

Chair: Héctor Manuel Valdez Albizu, President, Central Bank, Dominican Republic

Speaker: Murilo Portugal, Deputy Managing Director, IMF


María Antonieta de Bonilla, President, Central American Monetary Council and President, Central Bank, Guatemala

Guillermo Zúñiga, President, Central American Council of Finance Ministers and Minister of Finance, Costa Rica


9:30–11:00 a.m. Session 3: Tax Structures in the Context of Increased Integration

One of Central America’s key challenges is to raise tax revenue to address pressing needs in a fiscally responsible manner. Regional and global integration, including the establishment of a Central American customs union, have made this task even more complex. This session will investigate tax structures in the region and other parts of the world in the face of such globalization pressures and seek to draw lessons for the design of tax systems.

Chair: Teresa Ter-Minassian, Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF


Rodrigo Cubero, Economist, Western Hemisphere Department, IMF

Juan Alberto Fuentes, Minister of Finance, Guatemala


Rebeca Santos, Minister of Finance, Honduras

William Hándal, Minister of Finance, El Salvador

Alberto Guevara, Minister of Finance, Nicaragua

Vicente Bengoa, Secretary of Finance, Dominican Republic


10:30–11:00 a.m.  Coffee break
11:30–12:00 a.m. Closing Remarks

María Antonieta de Bonilla, President, Central American Monetary Council and President, Central Bank, Guatemala

Anoop Singh, Director, Western Hemisphere Department, IMF

12:30–1:00 p.m. Press Conference
1:00–2:30 p.m. Informal Lunch