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· Momentos y Perspectivas


  Félix Peña

INTERNATIONAL TRADE RELATIONS NEWSLETTER
2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

REALITIES AND DREAMS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF A REGION
Founding moments in the long and unfinished process of development of Latin American integration.


by Félix Peña
March 2019

English translation: Isabel Romero Carranza


 

A little more than fifteen years after the publication of the book "Momentos y Perspectivas" ("Moments and Perspectives"), I confirm the impression that I had then in the sense that the continuous tension between dreams and realities is at the heart of the major experiences of joint work, with an intention of permanence, between sovereign and contiguous nations who share common goals and interests but that do not necessarily wish to resign their sovereignty. I can also confirm what I pointed out when observing what has been achieved in the South of the Americas in terms of the development of an area of peace and in terms of the significant increase in cooperative interdependence. Although the task of our countries has been erratic and is still unfinished, the overall balance remains a positive one.

A positive outlook on the travelled path does not mean imagining that the initial momentum and the agreed trajectory will materialize as defined in the founding moments. On the contrary, the experience accumulated in Latin America in the last sixty years indicates that the process of building an area for joint work shared by a group of countries needs to be redefined continuously.

From the experience acquired in the Latin American region, as well as in other regions, we can identify those factors that help explain the founding moments and later their adaptation to the changing international, regional and domestic realities of each country. There are three factors that would seem to be the most necessary to help materialize any initiative of permanent joint work between sovereign nations. These are: the intensity and continuity of the political will of the leadership of at least the most relevant members of the integration process; the effectiveness and sustainability of the joint work methods chosen at the moment of foundation and in the subsequent adaptations, and the quality of the agreed ground rules, especially the balance achieved between the requirements for predictability and flexibility, which do not necessarily have to be contradictory.

Over time, integration processes can thus be the result of different moments that affect the definition of the joint work among the participating countries. In this perspective, it is always convenient to identify which have been the most relevant founding moments in a given region.

Two of these moments can be detected in the Latin American and South American regions. One is reflected in the proposals to enhance the LAIA and the other has to do with Mercosur. They are directly related to the necessary articulation between the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur, for which the LAIA can play a very important role.


In our book "Moments and Perspectives. Argentina in the world and in Latin America" (Eduntref, Buenos Aires 2003), we compiled some articles written between 1968 and 2003, referring to the international insertion of Argentina and its participation in the development of integration processes in Latin America. Nowadays, our project -or shall we say dream- is to prepare a second volume with the compilation of some articles published during the period 2003-2018.

In the introduction to the mentioned work, I point out that in re-reading what was written and appreciating the expectations of integration that later did not materialize-even the mistakes in diagnosis that I often made-I become aware of how easy it is for passion for what can be achieved to lead to confuse illusions with realities and desires with possibilities.

Some fifteen years after the publication of the book and observing the most recent developments in the processes of regional integration, including Mercosur itself, I confirm the impression that I had then in the sense that the continuing tension between dreams and realities is at the heart of the major actual experiences of joint work, with an intention of permanence, between contiguous sovereign nations that share objectives and interests but that do not necessarily desire to stop being sovereign.

I also confirm what I pointed out at the time in the sense that, when observing what has been achieved in the South of the Americas in terms of the development of an area of peace and a substantial increase of cooperative interdependence, the impression remains that, even when the task of our countries has been erratic and unfinished, the overall balance is a positive one.

A positive outlook of the travelled path involves not expecting that the founding momentum and the agreed trajectory materialize exactly as they were conceived at the initial stage. The experiences gathered in Latin America in the last sixty years indicate that the process of developing an area for joint work by a set of contiguous sovereign nations requires to be redefined continuously. Indeed, this has happened in other regions, as we have observed in the process of European integration and, especially, with the Brexit.

This continuous redefinition does not necessarily contradict the logical demands for predictability in the goals and ground rules, shaped by those who will take decisions -especially for productive investment- based on the integration of the corresponding economic spaces.

As we have pointed out on other occasions when assessing the situation of an actual process of integration between countries that share a given geographical space, such as the case of Mercosur, it is important to be able to detect at each specific moment if the differences that may eventually arise between the participating countries reflect an existential crisis or just a methodological one. An existential crisis becomes clear when one or more countries prefer to withdraw from the integration process or seriously consider such option. This would be the case today of the Brexit in the EU. A methodological crisis refers to one or more aspects of how to work together, that is, which are the objectives, institutions, rules and mechanisms that are most convenient -and feasible- to use in the joint effort between the partners.

From the experience accumulated in Latin America and in other regions, some factors help explain their founding moments and their subsequent adaptation to the new international, regional or domestic realities of the participating countries.
In our opinion, three factors seem to be necessary for a permanent joint work effort between contiguous nations to be viable. These are:

  • the intensity and continuity of the political will of the leadership of at least the most relevant countries of the corresponding integration process, fueled by a shared vision of the challenges that originate in their respective external fronts;

  • the effectiveness and sustainability of the joint work methods selected in the founding moments or in the subsequent adaptations, and

  • the quality of the agreed ground rules and of their effective application and, especially, the balance that is achieved between requirements for predictability and flexibility, which do not necessarily have to be contradictory.

Over time, integration processes can be the result of different moments which affect the definition of the scope and methodology of the joint work among participating nations. In this perspective, it is always advisable to detect which have been the most relevant founding moments in a given region.

Two highly interconnected founding moments can be identified. on the one hand, at the Latin American regional level and, on the other hand, at the South American sub-regional level.. The first is evinced today in the proposals to enhance the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA) and the other involves Mercosur. Additionally, both are directly related to the necessary articulation between the countries of the Pacific Alliance and those of the Mercosur (the so-called the Group of Eight), for which the ALADI can play a significant role.

These founding moments were reflected by the signing of the Treaty of Montevideo on February 18, 1960, by which the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA) was created and at the Uruguaiana Summit, on April 20-22, 1961, between the Presidents Arturo Frondizi, from Argentina, and Janio Quadros, from Brazil. They can be considered important milestones due to their impact on the subsequent development of the current processes of Latin American integration.

In both cases, the relevance of the role of Argentina and Brazil can be observed. In the first case, the drive of what were at that time the two economies with greater impact in intraregional trade-especially in the South American space- together with the leading role of Chile and later of Mexico, and certainly of the ECLAC, led to the creation of the LAFTA, which was the first institution specifically oriented to the development of commercial integration with a Latin American scope. The methodology used had to fit the requirements, especially those from the US, for its recognition in the GATT, due to its adaptation to the then prevailing interpretation of its Article XXIV. Hence, the use of concepts and methods that did not conform to what was originally proposed by the countries that promoted the negotiation of the Treaty, as well as the ECLAC.

In the second case, the "Pact of Uruguaiana" was the expression of the convergence between Argentina and Brazil, that is, two key protagonists in the South American geographical space, at a relevant moment for Latin American relations with the US, especially because of the increasing influence that the Cuban revolution was beginning to have in the hemisphere and in international relations. (On the Pact of Uruguayana and its relevance at the beginning of the journey that led, first to the binational agreement between Argentina and Brazil and then to the beginning of Mercosur, see the books by Juan Archibaldo Lanús, "From Chapultepec to the Beagle, Argentine Foreign Policy: 1945-1980" and Oscar Camilión, "Political Memoirs. From Frondizi to Menem (1956-1996)". See also the article by Daniel Amicci,"The course towards the Uruguayana Summit: maximum expression of the approach between Argentina and Brazil during developmentalism ", listed as recommended reading at the end of this newsletter, and Félix Luna, "Dialogues with Frondizi", Editorial Desarrollo, Buenos Aires 1963, p. 95 to 122).

In both cases, the importance of a shared interpretation of the external challenges by the political leaders was evinced, within a context where common visions prevailed among the potential partners. The relevance of the "human factor" is also evident in order to materialize a common political will and translate the political leadership into actions. This fact was very clear in the case of President Frondizi's team and was manifested through the key roles of Carlos Manuel Muñiz, Oscar Camilión, Rogelio Frigerio, Carlos Florit, Roberto Alemann, Arnaldo Musich and Cecilio Morales, among others.


Recommended Reading:


  • Amicci, Daniel, "La trayectoria hacia la Cumbre de Uruguayana: máxima expresión de la aproximación entre Argentina y Brasil durante el desarrollismo", SciELO Org. México 2012.
  • Armstrong, Shiro, "Time for global leadership, Japan-style", East Asia Forum, 3 February 2019, https://www.eastasiaforum.org/.
  • Bartesaghi, Ignacio; Melgar, Natalia, "Análisis del proceso de convergencia iniciado entre la Alianza del Pacífico y el Mercosur", Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Análisis & Perspectivas, Nº 23, Diciembre 2018, en https://ucu.edu.uy/.
  • Bobbio, Norberto; Matteucci; Pasquino, Gianfranco, "Diccionario de Política", Siglo XXI Editores, México 2008.
  • Camilión, Oscar, "Memorias Políticas. De Frondizi a Menem (1956-1996), Conversaciones con Guillermo Gasió, Planeta/Todo es Historia, Buenos Aires 2000.
  • Ezquerro, María Luz, "La Guerra Fría y la Caída de Arturo Frondizi", Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Centro de Estudios Avanzados, Estudios (Otoño 2006).
  • Hazony, Yoram, "The Virtue of Nationalism", Basic Books 2018.
  • Intal, Ponciano, "Time for bolder steps from ASEAN", East Asia Forum, 24 February 2019, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org/.
  • Judis, John B., "The Nationalist Revival. Trade, Inmigration, and the Revolt against Glbalization", Columbia Global Reports, New York 2018.
  • Katzenstein, Peter J.; Seybert, Lucia A. (eds.), "Protean Power. Exploring the Uncertain and Unexpected in World Politics", Cambridge Studies in International Relations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2018.
  • Lafer, Celso, "Relacões Internacionais, Política Externa e Diplomacia Brasileira. Pensamneto e Acão", 2 Vols., Fundacão Alexandre de Gusmao, Colecao Relacões Internacionais, Brasilia 2018 en http://funag.gov.br/.
  • Lanús, Juan Archibaldo, "La integración económica en América Latina", Editorial Juárez, Buenos Aires 1972.
  • Lanús, Juan Archibaldo, "De Chapultepec al Beagle. Política Exterior Argentina 1945-1980", Emecé, Buenos Aires 1984.
  • Miyamoto, Shiguenoli, "O Brasil e a América Latina: Opcões Políticas e Integracão Regional", Cadernos PROLAM/USP ano 8, Vol. I. 2009.
  • Murcia, Walter; Oddone, Nahuel, Rodriguez Vásquez, Horacio, "La integración centroamericana: orígenes, avances y desafíos", Cuadernos de Cooperación Internacional y Desarrollo, Cooperación Internacional, Instituto Mora-CONACYT-Universidad Iberoamericana, México 2015.
  • Parag, Khanna, "The Future is Asian", Simon & Schuster, New York 2019.
  • Press-Barnathan, Galia; Fine, Ruth; Kacowicz, Arie M. (eds.), "The Relevance of Regions in a Globalized World. Bridging the Social Sciences-Humanities Gap", Routledge, London and New York 2019.
  • Rapoport, Mario (dir.), "Historia oral de la política exterior argentina (1930-1966)", Editorial Octubre, Buenos Aires 2015.
  • Rapoport, Mario (dir.), "Historia oral de la política exterior argentina (1966-2016)", Editorial Octubre, Buenos Aires 2016.
  • Runciman, David, "How Democracy Ends", Basic Books, New York 2018.
  • Sahdev, Garima, "Sub-regionalism is superseding a stagnant SAARC", East Asia Forum, 23 February 2019, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org/.
  • Sanguinetti, Fabrizio, "China y América Latina: del Tercer Mundo al Sur Global", en https://www.academia.edu/.
  • Williams, Mack, "China's behind-the-scenes role in Trump-Kim talks", East Asia Forum, 25 February 2019, https://www.eastasiaforum.org/.

Félix Peña Director of the Institute of International Trade at the ICBC Foundation. Director of the Masters Degree in International Trade Relations at Tres de Febrero National University (UNTREF). Member of the Executive Committee of the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI). Member of the Evian Group Brains Trust. More information.

http://www.felixpena.com.ar | info@felixpena.com.ar


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