CEO Covid-19 LATIN AMERICA oxford oxford business group


 Digitalisation and relocation trends expected to drive economic transformation



September 2020: A new Covid-19 CEO Survey on Latin America carried out by the global research and advisory company Oxford Business Group (OBG), in partnership with Promperú, provides valuable insight into the way decision-makers across the sectors are adapting to the “new normal” in a climate of  economic transformation. 

Titled “Creative disruption: How CEOs expect Covid-19 to reshape business in the region”, the survey also asks executives to assess their government’s response to the pandemic. In addition, the 124 business leaders are surveyed on the measures either implemented or planned within their firms as part of a broader digitalisation drive under way worldwide. 

Alongside the findings, the survey includes an in-depth analysis of the answers, and the broader economic climate in which they were obtained, by Harry van Schaick, OBG’s Regional Editor for the Americas. The results of the survey can be viewed in full at https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/blog/harry-van-schaick/obg-ceo-surveys/creative-disruption-how-ceos-expect-covid-19-reshape-business 

OBG began producing its CEO Surveys in 2016 as a way of giving licence-holders a handle on business sentiment in the economies it covers, termed the Yellow Slice markets, in reference to its corporate colour. Since then, they have become a highly popular and integral part of the firm’s portfolio of research tools.

In a sign that key sectors of the economy are moving closer to their usual level of operations, more than one-third of executives interviewed said their companies are now functioning at more than 80% capacity, while a further 24% put the figure in the 61-80% range. Construction and real estate topped the list in a sectoral breakdown of responses, followed by health and pharmaceuticals, while, unsurprisingly, the tourism and hospitality sector, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, was operating at the lowest levels of capacity.

Given the uncertain economic climate globally, business leaders understandably found it difficult to predict how Covid-19 is likely to affect exports in their sector longer term. Almost one-third said they didn’t know or chose to respond N/A. Health and pharmaceutical business leaders were most optimistic, with 40% telling OBG that they thought the pandemic would have a somewhat positive impact on international sales over time.

Asked how satisfied they were with their government’s response to the virus in both fiscal and public health terms, executives gave differing reactions which reflected the varied approaches adopted by each country. However, overall, more than half of those surveyed were either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with their government’s handling of the crisis. 

OBG also asked executives what tax-relief measure would most help their company to improve its performance in 2020. Nearly half (49%) cited a reduction in taxes as most beneficial, well ahead of tax rebates (18%) and tax holidays (13%).

With the pandemic accelerating digitalisation across much of the region, many industries have either embarked on a digitalisation drive or are building on efforts already under way. Asked about their plans, 42% of respondents told OBG they had or would digitalise their revenue channels and/or services, while almost nine out of every 10 companies have implemented remote working. The majority (70%) of business leaders also expect the practice of remote working to remain in place in one form or another as the virus eases.

Van Schaick said that although Latin America remains challenged by the coronavirus, with daily cases and deaths in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Peru still stubbornly high in August, the region was well placed to benefit from emerging innovative ways of working and the trend among multinationals to rethink their locations.

“As a region with a young population and strong economic ties to both China and the US, there is considerable scope for an economic transformation across various sectors in Latin America,” he said. “Looking ahead, the most widespread and all-encompassing trend across sectors and industries is digitalisation. Practically all firms in Latin America are in the process of some digitalisation initiative, which may allow them to be more competitive following the pandemic.”

Van Schaick’s analysis can be found in full on OBG’s Editor’s Blog, alongside additional analysis by all four of OBG’s Regional Editors on the markets that they cover. Titled “Next Frontier”, the blog serves as a platform for OBG’s experts to share their thoughts on the latest developments taking place across the sectors of the 30+ high-growth markets covered by the company’s research.   

The OBG CEO Surveys feature in the Group’s extensive portfolio of research tools. The full results of the surveys are available online and in print. Similar studies are also under way in the many markets in which OBG operates.

 About OBG CEO Surveys 

OBG CEO Survey Copyright (c). All rights reserved.

This survey has been designed to assess business sentiment among business leaders (chief executives or equivalent) and their outlook in light of Covid-19.

For this special edition, the survey was conducted online by OBG staff, across the full range of industries, company sizes and functional specialties. The results are anonymous.

This Latin America Covid-19 CEO Survey is based on 124 responses from companies with the following parameters, among others: 


• 14.5% of companies surveyed were from Argentina

• 24.2% of companies surveyed were from Colombia

• 29.1% of companies surveyed were from Mexico

• 26.6% of companies surveyed were from Peru

 • 5.6% of companies surveyed represented other markets, including Panama, Cuba and the US. 

The data generated allow for analysis of sentiment within an individual country, as well as regionally. The results are presented statistically within infographics and discussed in articles written by OBG Managing Editors. OBG provides this survey, infographics and accompanying analysis from sources believed to be reliable, for information purposes only. OBG accepts no responsibility for any loss, financial or otherwise, sustained by any person or organisation using it.

For further information on the content of the survey, please contact: Harry van Schaick, Regional Editor for the Americas, at hvanschaick@oxfordbusinessgroup.com. Should you wish to reproduce any element of this survey, infographics and accompanying analysis, please contact 

mdeblois@oxfordbusinessgroup.com. Any unauthorised reproduction will be considered an infringement of the Copyright. For further details about OBG and how to subscribe to our widely acclaimed business intelligence publication, please visit www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com. 

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