Trade, investment and fragmentation of the global market: Is Latin America lagging behind?
Bernardo Kosacoff, Andrés López, Mara Pedrazzoli
This document has the purpose of contributing to the analysis of trends and prospects of Latin America’s insertion into the new global scenario, characterized by a growing integration of national economies – through trade, investment, finance, etc. – and the increasing internationalization of the so-called global value chains (GVCs). The opportunities and challenges presented by this GVC phenomenon are different and their effects not always homogeneous. In this paper, we study their impact on the developing economies, focusing particularly on Latin America. The insertion into the GVCs may help diversify exports, create new jobs and acquire new technological capabilities in keeping with the best international practices, which will strengthen the competitiveness of lagging countries. However, distributive effects and spillovers to domestic economies – and therefore, in more general terms – their impact on development – are less clear. Admitting that we are speaking of a heterogeneous reality, the present situation proves to be “unsatisfactory”, taking into account that some countries play a minor role in the GVCs, while others, more inserted into them, show, in general terms, relatively small spillovers. Factors behind these trends are evaluated and some political lessons that help improve the region’s positioning in today’s global scenario are drawn. The document is structured as follows: in the second section, we present information on trade and FDI worldwide trends, particularly in terms of their relation to the GVC phenomenon. Also, we briefly introduce a conceptual framework to analyze such trends and its impacts. Section III discusses available data on the way Latin America is inserted into worldwide trends of trade and investment and the participation (or not) of the continent in international production systems. In section IV we look into the reasons for the region’s weak role in GVCs and of the scarce positive impacts resulting from its present integration manner into the trends of trade and FDI. In section V, we present the main conclusion and political lessons.
* This document was submitted at the Seminar "The New Agenda for International Trade Relations as the Doha Round Draws to an End" (OBREAL/WTO), organized by OBREAL on January 29-30 2007, Barcelona, Spain (www.obreal.org)