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José Manuel Salazar Xirinachs is a Costa Rican economist and currently Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

He joined the ILO in 2005 as Executive Director of its Employment Sector (based in Geneva, Switzerland), with overall responsibility for the Organization’s employment promotion work in areas such as employment policies, business development, vocational training, labour market analysis, employment services, the transition from informality to formality, the relationship between trade and employment, promotion of youth employment, and related topics. He also took the position of Assistant Director General for Policy.

Prior to joining ILO, he served from 1998 to 2005 as Director of the Trade Unit of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington. The Unit worked with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and ECLAC as the Technical Secretariat for the negotiations to create the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), while providing technical assistance on trade and competitiveness to the countries of the Americas.

From 1997 to 1998, José Manuel Salazar was Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, during which time he presided over the FTAA process. It was under his stewardship that the goals, principles and negotiating mechanisms of the FTAA were negotiated before ultimately being approved at the Ministerial Meeting of San José, which he hosted.

In the academic sphere, he is the author of numerous articles on development, trade, economic integration, competitiveness and employment, and he has published a number of books, including Towards Free Trade in the Americas (Brookings Institution, 2001), Promoting Sustainable Enterprises (ILO, 2008) and Trade and Employment: From Myths to Facts (ILO, 2011), among others. He has taught at the University of Costa Rica, the National University of Heredia in Costa Rica, Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., United States. He holds a master’s degree in Development Economics and a doctorate in Economics from Cambridge University and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Costa Rica.

José Manuel Salazar Xirinachs

José Manuel Salazar Xirinachs

Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the International Labour Organization (ILO)