Infrastructure 2013: global priorities, global insights

The Americas

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From north to south, the Americas represent the full spectrum of national ambitions, struggles, strategies and approaches for dealing with challenging and expensive infrastructure requirements necessary to facilitate future economic growth.

United States

Budget constraints and a lack of consensus regarding the federal role in key infrastructure sectors “present an [ongoing] challenge” in trying to plan for public investment. Some progress came with the passing of a federal transportation reauthorization bill, but the legislation’s two-year time horizon means that thinking about the next one will need to start right away.

Infrastructure spending as a percentage of GDP has shrunk to about 2.4 percent from its peak of more than 3 percent during the 1960s. States and local governments account for about 75 percent of all infrastructure spending, including capital and operations and maintenance, with the federal government contributing the remaining quarter of infrastructure spending.

Canada

Over the past decade, Canada has made shoring up aging infrastructure systems a top priority. The country’s $32.5 billion (C$33 billion) federal Build Canada Plan and highly effective implementation of PPPs at the provincial level have been hallmark efforts.

A recent report card from the Canadian Construction Association, however, points to significant remaining needs, noting that half the nation’s municipal roads require substantial repairs and a quarter of water treatment plans need upgrading or replacement.

Mexico

Buoyed by a revived manufacturing base, its energy sector, manageable government debt and an expanding middle class, Mexico has rebounded from recession relatively quickly even in the face of ongoing drug wars, helped by strategic infrastructure spending to create jobs and buttress growth prospects.

In fact, President Felipe Calderón left office last year choosing to characterize his term as the “presidency of infrastructure.” Since Calderón embarked on a $230 billion National Infrastructure Program in 2007, the country has undertaken a massive highway upgrading and building initiative to create two north–south and two east–west expressway corridors.

Brazil

Hobbled by a sudden economic downturn attributable to reduced exports and lowered commodity prices, Brazil plays the stimulus card with a heavy dose of infrastructure spending to prepare for the fast-approaching World Cup, to be held in 2014, and the Summer Olympic Games, slated for 2016.

Despite a decade of mostly rapid growth and substantial offshore investments from the United States, Canada, China and the Eurozone, Brazil is experiencing difficult growing pains and is dealing with current inadequate infrastructure.


Metropolitan Areas throughout the Americas Expect Moderate Growth

Projected Population and Growth Rate of Metro Areas with More Than 5 Million Population in 2025

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Source: United Nations, World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision, 2012.