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Regional integration in the 1990s

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Regional integration in the 1990s

Author: Rosenthal, Gert Physical Description: páginas. 11-19 Date: August 1993 ECLAC symbol: LC/G.1767-P


The renewed interest sparked by the potential for intraregional cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean today has been reflected in numerous agreements regarding trade preferences and in attempts to establish free trade areas, customs unions or common markets. The possibility has even been discussed of setting up free trade arrangements on a hemispheric scale. This plethora of proposals inevitably raises a great many questions. What is the reason for this renewed interest? Are the differences between the schemes of today and those of the 1960s and 1970s significant enough to avert the obstacles and difficulties encountered by those earlier schemes? What are the most suitable mechanisms and instruments for promoting intra-Latin American integration? What are the defining characteristics of the various categories of integration initiatives, such as free trade areas, customs unions and common markets? Is it feasible to set up free trade areas involving countries having very dissimilar levels of development or macroeconomic policies? Would it be wise to work towards a gradual convergence of all these initiatives into a single, regionwide scheme? And most importantly: Just how functional would integration be in terms of the development strategies and policies adopted by the individual countries of the region? The various sections of this article attempt to answer, albeit tentatively, these questions.