Latin American Integration: 200 Years of Efforts

Latin American integration efforts have been a continuous fixture throughout much of the last century, but in recent years there has been a flurry of new initiatives, with leaders re-emphasizing regional ties. The increasing number of high-profile presidential, ministerial summits, have brought renewed promises and commitments to deepen regional political, economic, social, and developmental cooperation, and have spurred creation of new political and economic bodies tasked with uniting the region. Though in part due to a global shift toward regionalism, it also reflects real potential benefits of an integrated Latin America. Economically, the combined markets would give the region substantially more heft on the global stage. Geopolitically, greater unity would enable these nations to garner United States’ and other world powers’ attention, better promote their interests in multilateral discussions and negotiations. In general, it could improve opportunities and wellbeing of the some six hundred million Latin Americans. Latin America’s integration is bolstered by its widespread support from average citizens. Within the region, polls show that over half of each country’s population (and in some places up to three-quarters) support both economic and political integration. Democratic politicians have played up these visions for electoral gain, most notably, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has drummed up support by promoting his integration initiatives (as the way to foil perceived U.S. regional designs). But Chavez and his contemporaries are not the first leaders to make such promises. South America’s first grand integration efforts began in the early nineteenth century under the leadership of General Simón Bolivar during the wars of independence. He envisioned uniting northern South America into Gran Colombia, and creating a league of American republics with a common military, mutual defense pact, and a supranational parliamentary assembly. This dream, and the Bolivar’s presidency, ended in 1830. After World War II, integrationist efforts reemerged. In 1947 nineteen nations (which later became 23) signed the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (also known as the Rio Treaty), where they vowed to defend each other against outside aggression. The Organization of American States (OAS) followed in 1948 (building on a previous turn-of-the-century institution), promising to promote social and economic development through a four-pronged emphasis on democracy, human rights, security, development. In late 1950s the hemisphere came together to form Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), designed not only to encourage economic development but also to advance regional integration through its internal Institute for Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL). In 1960, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico led their neighbors in the creation of Latin American Free Trade Association (ALALC), the first attempt at a regional intergovernmental body. Its goal was to establish free trade throughout the whole region in twelve years (it failed). This effort was renewed in 1980 by the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), which promoted a more gradual approach to creating a common market (it is still officially in the works) (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to Latin American Integration: 200 Years of Efforts

  1. Economic ties lead Latin America’s integration efforts. Promising some of the greatest concrete benefits—larger markets, improved livelihoods, and enhanced global economic power—leaders and communities alike have tried to integrate the region through three main means: trade, infrastructure, and investment. In the post-WWII era, governments began creating ambitious trade organizations, such as the 1960 Latin America Free Trade Association, or LAFTA, and its successor, the Latin American Integration Association, or ALADI. Both focused on (and never achieved) an integrated common market. Less ambitious (but more successful) have been the over fifty trade agreements negotiated over the past fifty years between Latin American neighbors, setting the stage for greater economic interchange (…..) Despite these advancements, regional integration falls short when compared to the rest of the world. The Economist shows that Latin America’s intra-regional trade clocks in at just over 20 percent of all exports, much lower than the EU’s intra-regional exports (70 percent in 2010), or Asia’s and North America’s (50 percent each). This is partly because Latin American countries still continue to trade more with the United States than with each other. But increasingly Latin American nations have also looked inter-regionally for their economic agreements, with Chile and Peru (and soon Mexico), joining the U.S., New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, and Australia in negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership—which would deepen trade across the pacific countries. If it succeeds, it may signal another turn in Latin America’s economic agreements—Latin American countries integrating with one another while looking abroad together.


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