The future of Public Enterprises in Latin America and the World

Synthesis report on international seminar in Montevideo

7 December 2012

An international seminar in Montevideo, co-organised by TNI and the Uruguayan government, shared the latest learning and innovation by state-owned enterprises across Latin America and affirmed their importance as instruments for economic and social development.

The international seminar Public' Enterprises:' Transformations,' Challenges' and' Opportunities, was held in Montevideo between October 29 and November 1, jointly organised by the Transnational  Institute  (TNI),  Uruguay’s General Directorate for Industrial Development (DNIGMIEM) and the National Telecommunications Administration (ANTEL).

The seminar had  422  participants and was structured around presentations delivered by more than  30 government officials, directors and technical staff of state-owned companies, trade unionists and academic researchers from various countries worldwide.

The seminar enabled the exchange of experiences and in-depth discussions on the significance and role of  public enterprises within the current context of change at regional and global levels. The three days of the seminar were marked by a general consensus about the positive nature of state-owned  enterprises  (SOEs)  , with reference to their performance in the provision of public services and in industrial  policy. 

Several examples of successful companies in Latin American  countries governed  by  left-of-centre  parties  or  movements—in  Argentina,  Brazil,  Bolivia, Ecuador,  Uruguay and Venezuela— as well as in Costa Rica —a country that currently has a conservative government but where the state has historically being a developmental force — were presented. The seminar also discussed the trajectory of public enterprises in Europe, Asia and North America, and their prospects in the current global crisis. 

About the authors

Daniel Chavez

Daniel Chavez, a TNI fellow, specialises in left politics, state companies and public services. He is an active contributor of the Municipal Services Project (MSP) research network, has contributed to Alternatives to Privatization: Public Options for Essential Services in the Global South (Routledge, 2012) and has co-edited The Reinvention of the State: Public Enterprises and Development in Latin America and the world (to be published in 2014).

Recent publications from Public Services & Democracy

Reorienting Development: State-owned Enterprises in Latin America and the World

Reorienting Development analyses what the nature, advantages, limitations and challenges of public companies are. It also offers new theoretical and conceptual insights on the nature and roles of the state and the controversial meanings of development.

The Tragedy of The Private, The Potential of The Public

From South Africa to Brazil, from Italy to the US, in Uruguay, Greece, Norway, the UK and in many other countries, municipal councils are taking services back under public control. Public Service workers and their fellow community members are not only defending public services but are also struggling to make them democratic and responsive to the people's needs and desires.

Susan George Classics

The Transnational Institute brings together Susan George’s oeuvre in this beautiful handmade boxed set of her six classic books.

Doing away with ‘labour’

Conventionally, the concept of ‘labour’ is understood as referring to waged labour – the capacity to labour as exercised through a market. It was precisely this narrow understanding of labour that the discussions in this stream challenged from several angles.