The E15 engages key stakeholders – trade and investment policy makers, business and thought leaders – in policy dialogues in Geneva and around the world to explore and help validate ideas, align interests and strengthen the impetus for change.

RTA Exchange Dialogues

Latin American Economies Integration to Global Markets in the New Context of Revisionism of Free and Fairer Trade

04 April 2017 , Buenos Aires, Argentina

On 4 April, ICTSD, in partnership with the Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), organised an informal dialogue convened under the RTA Exchange entitled “Latin American Economies Integration to Global Markets in the New Context of Revisionism of Free and Fairer Trade.”

The global trade and investment system is in the midst of a historic transformation characterised by rapidly changing business models, a technology-driven blurring of national borders and changing public and political attitudes towards the benefits of trade, insufficient delivery on inequality, social security and the environment, and a consequent slowing and reshaping of economic integration multilaterally and regionally.

The fragmentation of the global trade and investment architecture is driven by a number of factors. Lack of progress at the WTO is part of the story, but much of the fragmentation is driven by agreements that go deeper than the WTO integration and a rapidly growing but disconnected international investment regime. The result has been an organic evolution of a complex web of heterogeneous bilateral and regional agreements that are often incoherent and uncoordinated. Some of these agreements contain elements that may help to generate a “race to the top”, but others remain complicated, competing among themselves, eroding each other and generating further asymmetry in capabilities, potentially resulting in disadvantages to micro, small and medium enterprises, the poor and poorer nations.

In this context, reviewing relevant experiences including innovations, best practices, and lessons learned from existing agreements at the regional level can provide critical insights in the design of a more inclusive global trade system.

The present high-level informal roundtable dialogue convened a select group of representatives from governments, business and academia, to engage in an open discussion on the following questions:

  1. In light of the G20’s Finance Minister’s disagreement in Baden-Baden on 18th March 2017 to pledge to fully oppose “trade protectionism” and new calls to revise trade agreements to make them “fairer”, what are Latin American countries perspectives?
  2. What lessons and best practices can be drawn from the experience of regional trade agreements (RTAs) such as the Pacific Alliance, TPP, Mercosur, and RCEP in the areas of services, digital trade, value chains, agriculture, investment, manufacturing and industrial policy?
  3. What mechanisms, provisions or approaches are being explored in national policy and regional policies and how might this inform the continued constructive development of RTAs in Latin America and globally?

In anticipation of the G20 and the WTO’s Ministerial Conference being hosted in the region by Argentina, the meeting strengthened the shared understanding among senior policymakers and influencers and served to inform ongoing domestic policy and regional debates and possible negotiations. Participants were given the opportunity to explore regional developments in the context of IDB’s recent regional reports and policy options for the global trade and investment system released through ICTSD’s E15 Initiative. It also generated insight into Latin American regional integration priorities and how they might be applied in other regions and how they might shape anticipated discussions at the WTO.