The countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region have shown a keen and lasting interest in mechanisms of economic development and public policies for its promotion. This is a process in which ECLAC has been involved ever since its founding over half a century ago. Today, the debate on these issues continues against the backdrop of a globalization process in which the remarkable dynamism of some dimensions -especially its economic, financial and cultural aspects- contrasts with the slow formation of an institutional network capable of coping with the increased interdependence of nations on various levels and of gradually rectifying the striking asymmetries of the global order. Over the past two decades, the Latin American and Caribbean region has wagered heavily on its integration into the global economy. In fact, of all the developing regions of the world, it has been the most resolute in its pursuit of economic liberalization. A review of this period brings to light a number of extremely important achievements, but it also reveals areas in which the region is lagging behind and others in which unfinished business remains. ECLAC contends that the region must build upon the progress it has already made, but it also has to close existing gaps and address unresolved issues. The inroads made in these areas may play a vital role in consolidating the region's fuller integration into the world economy and in ensuring that the social, economic and political costs of the economic reform process have not been incurred in vain.