Opinion Piece

The state of play: BNamericas listens in

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, February 04, 2016

Though it is impossible to generalize about the results ofBNamericas' latest round of annual surveys – they span six industries and dozens of countries – respondents were generally pessimistic about the current state of Latin America.

Much of the pessimism can be explained by slowing economies and a negative external environment.

The vast majority of respondents don't see an improvement in the oil price this year: most expect it to remain below US$50/b in 2016. There is a slightly brighter perception of metals prices, especially precious metals, a detail that bodes well for countries such as Colombia and Mexico that host a number of new projects in this category. The oversupply could last longer in the copper market, while iron ore seems set to be plagued by a market surplus for some years to come.

In the electric power, oil and mining surveys, Peru, long a star of emerging market nations, fell in the estimation of survey takers; the election in April of this year will be critical and closely watched. Brazil, too, after its disastrous 2015, fell across the board.

Chile was considered the best place to invest in electric power and mining in 2016. Mexico was the most popular destination for oil and infrastructure investment and also received mention for its electric power reforms. Colombia was praised for its efforts to build out its infrastructure and introduce mining friendly regulation to promote the nascent industry. Argentina made the most positive advances across all surveys, based on the new pro-business government of Mauricio Macri.

In oil and gas, respondents no longer worry about nationalizations, and a majority of survey takers feel the regulatory and legislative outlook has improved in the last five years. Three out of four respondents said that in the next decade Latin America will be increasingly important as a global hydrocarbons supplier.

In electric power, renewable energy and regional integration were seen as crucial to a sustainable energy future. Survey takers see renewable power playing a major role in covering demand growth in Latin America over the next decade. The growth of solar power is expected to outpace wind in the next five years.

Excessive red tape, poor planning and community opposition rank among the major barriers to developing projects in all sectors. Financing, meanwhile, was seen as complicated in 2016 in most sectors, particularly in the resource business.

Those in the telecom business suggest that sector players have adequate capex for 2016, and are investing wisely. This contrasts with the respondents' opinions of government telecom sector budgets, which they perceive to be underfunded and poorly planned.

To access the reports, click here.

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