Chile will become the first developed country in Latin America, predicted Mexican communications mogul Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, in an economic presentation given in Honduras.
The criteria that constitute which nations are and are not considered developed are a subject of some debate. Among criteria considered are economic factors such as GDP, per capita, personal income per capita, and industrialization.
GDP is the value of all goods and services provided by a country in a given year. GDP per capita essentially describes the production value of the average person in that country.
International estimates for Chile’s per capita GDP in 2010 ranged between US$11,800 and US$11,900, according to the International Monetary Fund and the CIA World Factbook respectively (nominal GDP values are converted at market exchange rates to US dollars).
Slim, estimated by Forbes magazine in March to possess a US$74 billion fortune, said there are already countries in Latin America that are at an advanced economic level due to massive industrial advances in the past century. These companies include Brazil, Chile and Mexico.
“In the case of Latin America, I believe Chile will be the first to break that barrier (of underdevelopment)” Slim said. “Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Mexico will probably be next.”
He cited the booming mining industry in northern Chile as being largely responsible for the country’s march toward official classification as a developed country.
However, Slim said that Chile still needs to improve education and poverty levels in order to be considered a developed country.
According to Slim, the only way to combat poverty is by improving education and creating jobs. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera has voiced his plans to increase the availability of grants for technical education, and is expected to outline his specific plans to do so in his upcoming state of the union address on May 21.
Slim said that despite not producing at the GDP level of some developed countries around the world, one advantage for Latin American countries is that they don’t have the massive amount of national debt that many countries, including the United States, are experiencing.
“We have a secure financial system with a stable macroeconomic foundation,” predicted the Mexican billionaire. “We can say that we are secure because we don’t have an overly-complicated structure.”