Thursday, October 03, 2013

Rhetoric, Reality and Latin American Trade

This article, written by Mexican professor Luisa Parraguez and two of her students, really hits the nail on the head with regard to U.S.-Latin American trade relations. They detail all the public concerns Latin American governments have had with U.S. policy, and then show how despite all the talk, there is little change in trade.

Anti-American rhetoric in ALBA countries has not prevented them from listing the U.S. among their main trade partners. As of 2012, the U.S. was the main import source for Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Honduras. Particularly striking is that 31.2 percent of Venezuela’s imports and 28 percent of Ecuador’s come from the United States. Adding to this list, the U.S. is Bolivia’s fourth largest source of imports, producing up to 10 percent of its imports, and Argentina’s second source after Brazil.
Trade overrides ideology. The bottom line, leftwing leaders like Maduro and Morales need U.S. business in their economies, and the most vehement anti-imperialist talk is overshadowed by economic pragmatism. Ecuador is in an even more critical position, as reliance on the U.S. dollar in its economy means it cannot afford poor relations with the United States. Ideological hot air may grab headlines, but will not trump Latin America’s heavy flows of trade with the world´s most powerful economy.

Even in the case of Venezuela, you can expel all the diplomats you want, but real independence cannot come until you end your very strong reliance on the U.S. for both imports and exports (and Venezuela remains a very good example of dependency theory despite well over a decade of Chavismo). The many references you see about the end of U.S. hegemony also ignores this fact.


Justin Delacour 7:39 PM  

Is the debate really about whether U.S. hegemony has ended or whether its power vis-a-vis the region is gradually declining?

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