While infrastructure spending has increased in recent years in countries that have established mechanisms to attract resources and the expertise of the private sector - such as Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile  - there are still significant shortfalls.

Public investment is key, but even more so is the success of the institutional reforms being undertaken by some governments to perfect public-private partnership (PPP) models. In Latin America, projects increasingly depend on private investment and operations.

This year has been particulary difficult in Latin America, with sluggish growth and political scandal impacting governments throughout the region. In Brazil, economic contraction, corruption scandals and problems in the supply of water and energy mean expectations have hit rock bottom. Despite this, the South American giant intends to invest some US$64 billion in the construction and development of transport infrastructure and urban mobility by 2018.

The fall in oil prices has impacted major oil exporters througout the region. In Mexico, there is concern that a dented government budget will lead to the possible review or scrapping of major transportation projects included in the ambitious National Infrastructure Program (PNI) for the 2014-18 period. This 'roadmap' includes a total of 223 transport infrastructure projects valued at almost US$100 billion.

The Colombian economy has performed excellently during the past decade, but to sustain the future growth of the country completing the so-called fourth generation of road concessions (better known as 4G) is considered key. This program includes investments of about US$17 billion over the next six years.

Peru's economy should gradually return to previous growth rates following 2014's modest expansion. At present, the country has a portfolio of projects to be awarded in 2016 valued at US$19.3 billion.

To give momentum to a sluggish economy, Chile plans US$28 billion in infrastructure spending by 2020. The goal is to increase spending on public infrastructure, which is currently estimated at 2.5% of GDP, to around 3.5%.

Whether it's because of the need for governments to implement countercyclical strategies, or to reduce the shortfall in transport infrastructure, in 2016 and the following years we should witness multiple developments in the industry.

The plans involve major highway, airport and port projects. Investments in 2016 and beyond will especially target freight and passenger railroads, regional integration projects and innovative urban transport systems such as light rail, cable cars, monorails and the latest generation of trams.

A highway crossing the Ibirapuera Park in
Sao Paulo, Brazil (CREDIT: AFP).

Figure: Oil prices to remain subdued in 2016


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