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29 April 2011

The Alianza del Pacífico Latinoamericoa free-trade agreement between Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Panamá — is the latest in these types of international trade groups.  I have been saying that Mexico should have joined the already existing Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela), which is further along in creating a common market of the type that led to the European Union.   I would have preferred a wider “Bolivarian”  economic union, meant to spur everyone’s internal markets. but don’t have any strong objection to a second pan-Latin organization.  While it is true that APLA creates an economic zone larger than Mercosur,  I don’t see that it particularly creates any new internal markets for anyone.  None of the four (except Panamá) are all that different in their exports.  Mexico has more manufacturing than the other three, but it comes down to mineral, oil and agricultural exporting countries.

And narcotics.  Maybe they can form a dope “cartel” (a la OPEC) to rival the various national and regional cartels whose internecine warfare is said to be the common scourge of our various nations.

Snark aside, I get the feeling that APLA is meant as a political counter-weight to Mercosur.  The APLA countries all, for now, have conservative with a neo-liberal bent to their economic policies, while Mercosur countries have leftist, or socialist, presidents right now.  Politics might explain the presence of Panamá, which (at least in its legitimate economy) provides services, rather than manufactured goods and commodities, like the other three.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 29 April 2011 6:23 pm

    This is one of your less insightful posts. I don’t have any particular insight into the formation of the APL. I do know that the situation in Latin America is not left-right. Mercosur is an interesting organization which seems, as an organization, to have some strong neo-liberal tendancies. Brazil, the elephant in Mercosur, certainly has chosen a development path which is not terribly left wing. It exploits natural resources to the max, selling them to foreign companies without shame. It is creating monster energy projects designed to feed the industrial south, a rich pretty capitalist region. There certainly have been protests from people dislocated and exploited by such projects.

    In addition, Colombia and Peru, two countries in the proposed APL are associate members of Mercosur as well. Within Mercosur, there are stresses and strains, too, as countries are pulled between their own interests and the interests of the larger alliance.

    While clearly there is a neoliberal bent (a big one) at the moment in the APLA countries (who said Panama was one of them?) the neoliberal bent in Mexico at the moment is a bit precarious, to say the least. It would be as important to mention I think the effort to provide a counterweight to Brazil and to point out that among the very strong interests of APLA are economic relations with Asia. All very complicated.

  2. "Craig" permalink
    5 May 2011 2:39 pm

    One of the most crucial issues of our time is the depletion of natural resources and destruction of natural resources (atmosphere, global climate, water).

    The furthered pursuit of these trade deals appears to simply perpetuate the thinking that there is more to be gotten by more people and that whatever barriers exist to stabilize the economies and working classes of whatever nation are simply dispensable.

    And yet, when those barriers are removed by these accords — which pay all homage to capital, goods and services, but zero to labor — we are faced with extremes of poverty, unemployment and even destruction of subsistence farming when enormous volumes of enormously subsidized US agricultural exports are dumped into nations where at least meager markets existed for those who ‘live off the land.’

    This simply cannot continue and will not continue indefinitely. Our modern thought processes and politics are not really greatly evolved above that of the Classic and Post-Classic Maya.

    They failed to understand carrying capacity, particularly in the face of changing weather conditions (prolonged drought). And Malthusian depopulation occurred twice, at the ends of both the Classic and Post Classic periods. Perhaps the Conquista never would have succeeded had the Maya been at the top of their population and power, but the Spanish arrived around 200 years after depopulation had occurred (and introduced disease and by some estimates an additional 90% depopulation).

    Our minds today default mistakenly to the “technology will save us” proposition. Mother Nature teaches us again and again – through the Mississippi flooding this week or Katrina or whatever disaster – that mankind has nothing on the global exercise of power.

    The misinformed, misintended “trade agreements” are a short term useless exercise which will only cause more pain for the poor and continue chasing an economic system which has zero long-term viability. Resources are not inexhaustible.

    At any rate, here is an interesting read from a Capitalist who sees the writing on the wall: ~ 20 page PDF:

  3. 5 May 2011 3:04 pm

    Thank you, Craig! To the list of left wing (as well as right-wing) countries mauling the planet can be added Bolivia and Venezuela. I don’t know the others enough to say more. But Brazil is the biggest of the big. See for some very useful information in English.

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