‘Crisis will make Latin America more important for US’

October 2nd, 2008 - 1:32 am ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, Oct 1 (DPA) Mexican multi-billionaire Carlos Slim thinks Latin America “is going to become important for the economy of the United States,” in light of the current economic and financial crisis in the affluent neighbour to the north.Slim - ranked by Forbes magazine in March as the world’s second-richest man, worth an estimated $60 billion behind investor Warren Buffett - addressed representatives of foreign media late Tuesday in Mexico City.

He noted that Latin America as a region has 550 million consumers, so it can be “part of the solution” for the US.

“Since 2001 the US has grown very distant” from the region, Slim noted, adding that whoever moves into the White House next will have to look south.

As to his favourite candidate to succeed George W. Bush in the US presidency, Slim pointed to “whoever can make the US economy grow fastest,” noting that it will be the same for Latin America whether this is the Republican John McCain or the Democrat Barack Obama.

The tycoon - who earned his fortune from telecommunications - noted that the region remains key to his own business plan.

“We still have a lot to do in Latin America,” Slim noted.

He grew uneasy when asked about the legitimacy of his huge fortune in Mexico, a country with 45 million poor.

“I am not taking anything with me to the grave. I think it’s important to create wealth,” he stressed.

“It is perverse to think that there must not be strong companies in poor countries,” he noted. “If there are no strong firms in a country, it can hardly make progress.”

Slim said he was “very proud and very glad” to have been able to create a successful telephone company.

“It is very important that wealth be handled efficiently and that more wealth be created,” he said.

In this context, he noted that it would be good if Mexico had many strong firms like his, which are in a position to compete in international markets.

As to exactly how much he is worth, Slim stressed that it is almost impossible to make estimates, because it depends on the value of his companies in the stock market.

“In recent days it has fallen to about half!” he joked.

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