CABEI has become the strategic partner of the Central American nations

Dante Mossi, Executive Chairman of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI).

Mafex Magazine: What is the Central American Bank for Economic Integration’s (CABEI) main mission?

Dante Mossi: The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) was born within the framework of the Central American Integration Treaty in 1960 with the purpose of promoting economic integration, balanced economic and social development of the Central American region.In these 60 years we have established ourselves as the most relevant provider of resources for Central America, in the last 10 years about 50 percent of the disbursements of multilateral banking come from CABEI.

Our impact is evident in most of the region’s infrastructure: roads, hydroelectric plants, transmission lines, sewage, ports, airports, hospitals, and schools. Also in the development of MIPYMEs, tourism, industry, agriculture, and rural development, through financial intermediation. All of this in fulfillment of our goal: balanced development for all of Central America.
We are committed to continuous improvement, our credit rating reflects it (the best in Latin America), this allows us to obtain resources in better conditions for the benefit of the countries that conform us. Our knowledge of the region allows us to identify regional programs and projects that make the ideal of integration a reality.

Mafex Magazine: How has it evolved since its foundation 60 years ago and what have been the major milestones so far?

Dante Mossi: In six decades of history CABEI has accompanied the economic growth and social welfare of the region until becoming the main provider of resources.
CABEI has become the strategic partner of the Central American nations, by promoting their economic and social integration, with significant contributions in the areas of roads, port works, airport infrastructure, electrification, and telecommunications development, among others.

Mafex Magazine: What kind of mechanisms and instruments does CABEI have to promote development in the countries of action?

Dante Mossi: In line with its commitment to promote development, CABEI makes available to the public and private sectors different financing modalities and financial instruments to foster the sustainable development of the Bank’s member countries. Among the most common financing modalities I mention the following:

  • Direct financing, when done directly to borrowers.
  • Through intermediary financial institutions, previously chosen by the Bank.
  • Through co-financing when there are other participants besides the Bank in the financing.
  • Through Syndication and A/B Loans, when the Bank participates in the financing with other financial institutions, either as a structurer, joint structurer, co-structurer, or participant.
  • Investment Project Loans (Project Finance Scheme)
  • Reimbursable, non-reimbursable or contingent recovery financial cooperation.

The Bank’s team is ready to work with the client to find the financing solution that best suits their needs.

Mafex Magazine: CABEI’s “2020-2024 Institutional Strategy” is based on five priority themes, among which is “environmental and social sustainability”. What role does the promotion of a less polluting type of mobility, both for people and goods, play in this objective?

Dante Mossi: Environmental and social sustainability is a cross-cutting issue in the Bank’s strategy. In fact, the Bank has been promoting the development of the region through investments with this approach for many years. Likewise, the search for more efficient mobility alternatives is key to promoting the region’s sustainable development and competitiveness.

CABEI is working with the countries to advance in the implementation of solutions that in the long term will reduce transportation costs, reduce exposure to external shocks due to dependence on oil prices and above all, to find cleaner solutions, in view of the commitments established by the countries for sustainable development and the COP21. This search for alternatives also contemplates the more efficient use of energy sources and solutions adapted to the needs of citizens.

Mafex Magazine: During a recent forum entitled “Central America: Fertile Ground for Investment in Infrastructure during the Crisis”, you highlighted the many opportunities that exist in the region. Is it time to put the international spotlight on the area?

Dante Mossi: Indeed, the Central American region presents important investment requirements in sectors such as Electrical energy (at the level of generation and transmission), transportation (rail, sea and land), telecommunications, etc. In this sense, CABEI is promoting a regional agenda that facilitates undertaking these investments, for which the private sector must play a very important role, as well as Public-Private Partnerships, given the high levels of investment required.

Mafex Magazine: CABEI has more and more weight in the promotion of sustainable mobility and the projects associated to this end. Is it a good way for the economic reactivation in the new post COVID-19 era?

Dante Mossi: Any transport mechanism that is more efficient and promotes cost reduction has impacts on competitiveness and job creation. CABEI believes that these alternatives should be considered as key aspects in the economic reactivation, supporting more solid economies and resilience to external events.

Mafex Magazine: Which rail transport projects, whether for passengers or freight, are in more advanced stages?

Dante Mossi: CABEI, as the financial arm of the Central American region, has established the themes of Regional Integration and Sustainable Competitiveness in its Institutional Strategy. These themes frame actions to support the development of the Railway Transportation System that, in an interconnected way, will allow to lower the logistic costs of transportation of products that currently are around USD 0.17 Ton/Km[1].

As part of the initiatives that CABEI is promoting to have a modern, electro-mobile railway system, oriented to the reduction of CO2 and the resilience of the construction technologies of this mode of transport, to date two important projects in Costa Rica have been approved and are under feasibility study, the first referred to the Electric Passenger Train in the city of San José and the second to the Limonense Freight Train in its Atlantic zone. Likewise, the Pacific Train in El Salvador and the Guatemalan Rapid Train (TRG) are in the process of reviewing terms of reference for design; while in the case of the Pacific Train we are in the process of approving funding from the Korea Trust Fund for feasibility studies (expected in October).

In all cases, private sector investment will be promoted under Public-Private Partnerships (APP’s), joining forces to face global challenges.

Mafex Magazine: For these initiatives to be successful, it is also key to have strategic alliances, such as the agreement signed with Mafex in 2019. What objectives are being pursued with this international collaboration? And how do you assess the first year of this cooperation?

Dante Mossi: The collaboration agreement between CABEI and MAFEX, signed in 2019, establishes in its objective that the relationship will facilitate and promote the advice, exchange and transfer of knowledge of the Spanish railway sector to the Central American regions as a fundamental tool for development through the implementation of various activities.

The first year of cooperation resulted in support to provide CABEI with a list of railway experts who competed to carry out a sectoral diagnosis of railway transport in the six Central American countries and generate terms of reference for feasibility studies in the region, among other exchanges of knowledge.

Mafex Magazine: In addition, the link with Spanish railway companies for the implementation of infrastructure in Central America is growing. What do you think of this growing collaboration?

Dante Mossi: The MAFEX collaboration with CABEI will promote the training and improvement of capacities in the railway field, since the Central American agenda is conducive to the region having a modern railway system, through the development of railway infrastructure and its intermodal connection, it will also encourage the development of strategies for the definition of logistically acceptable railway projects with appropriate technical assistance, generating in turn the outreach of the Spanish railway industry to the Central American region.

Mafex Magazine: As an expert in finance programs for development programs, are you optimistic about the challenges you must face at this time to achieve a more sustainable development?

Dante Mossi: One of the positive aspects of the current global context is that it has raised awareness of the need to seek alternatives to overcome barriers that lead to development.

Creativity and innovation during adverse times give rise to those alternative means which generally, as in the mobility sector, allow for the inclusion and collective benefit of citizens in our case. As a Bank we believe that this gives us an opportunity to work with strategic allies such as MAFEX to collaborate and find those alternatives.

Now more than ever the world will need a common approach to grow and overcome the current context, being part of that international concert of development institutions, I am sure we will. For 60 years CABEI has shown its member countries its support, and this will not be the exception, especially considering that this time we have the best risk at the Latin American level

CABEI’S GREAT MILESTONES

◗ 1960: The Central American Integration Treaty is signed. By means of which the CABEI is created, its founding countries being Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
◗ 1989: Reforms to the Constitutive Agreement are approved for the incorporation of extra-regional partners.
◗ 1992: Reforms to the Constitutive Agreement come into force. The authorized capital is increased from US$600 million to US$2,000 billion. Mexico and the Republic of China (Taiwan) join.
◗ 1995: Argentina joins CABEI.
◗ 1997: First bond issue in the Republic of China (Taiwan). Colombia enters as a CABEI partner.
◗ 2000: First credit rating equivalent to an investment grade granted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
◗ 2002: First investment grade ratings granted by international agencies in the BBB grade -.
◗ 2004: The 2004-2009 Institutional Strategy is launched.
◗ 2005: First credit rating in the range of A. Given by Moody’s. Spain enters as the first extra-regional European partner.
◗ 2006: Belize enters the CABEI.
◗ 2007: The Dominican Republic and Panama join CABEI. Credit ratings of A- were achieved with Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s.
◗ 2008: International financial crisis impacts economies worldwide and CABEI maintains its solid financial position.
◗ 2009: Seventh authorized capital increase of US$2 billion to US$5 billion is approved.
◗ 2010: The 2010-2014 Institutional Strategy is launched.
◗ 2012: Credit ratings of A are achieved with Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s.
◗ 2015: The 2015-2019 Institutional Strategy is launched. Reforms to the Articles of Agreement are approved to improve governance, increase its membership base, and enable additional financing through diversification of its loan portfolio and additional capital injections.
◗ 2016: Green Climate Fund (GCF) certification obtained. Changes to the Articles of Agreement go into effect.
◗ 2017: CABEI’s risk rating is upgraded to A+ by Fitch Ratings.
◗ 2018: Eighth authorized capital increase from $5 billion to $7 billion approved. Cuba enters CABEI.
◗ 2019: CABEI achieves a credit rating of AA with Standard and Poor’s and consolidates itself as the entity with the best credit rating in all of Latin America. First green bond issue in the Formosa market.
◗ 2020: South Korea officially joins CABEI. Establishes a new institutional strategy for the next 5 years. CABEI reaches its 60th anniversary.