Saturday, November 17, 2012

Latin America trade

Shannon O'Neil echoes a point I made several times during the presidential debates--despite the chorus of voices proclaiming the decline of U.S. trade with Latin America, it is actually quite massive and growing.

I think, though, that much of the problem is not volume of trade, but rather the fact that other trading partners exist at all. This phenomenon is new and threatening. It is not enough for us to be involved in the lion's share of trade with Latin America; we have to be all of it or we're weak.

It is therefore zero sum. If China buys more commodities, that means we're somehow losing out, even if we don't want to buy those same commodities. What the chorus wants, really, is to get extra-hemispheric governments out. The Monroe Doctrine is, after all, something of a talisman for U.S. policy and we've never lost the knee-jerk reaction to fear involvement by outside powers.

What this also means it that no matter how many agreements the U.S. signs with Latin American governments, the chorus will keep singing because no agreement guarantees exclusion.


Anonymous,  11:10 AM  

Very well said. That was exactly my reaction to the post you refer to. It is the same paranoid US reaction that turns one or two stoners talking about spiking trees into an "epidemic" of terrorism, turns a few minor regional military powers around the world into "emerging threats" and worries itself sick over every uncontrolled element of the environment, from West Nile disease to sunlight. I'm not sure what it will take for the US to become a little more humble and accepting of the inherent riskiness of living in the physical world. But worries about the growth of Chinese oil & copper imports show that your country has a ways to go.

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