Friday, February 01, 2013

Latin America-European Union Summit: 2013

From January 26th -27th, 60 Chiefs of States and Prime Ministers met in Santiago, Chile, to discuss the future of cooperation and integration between Latin America and European Union. The main purposes is to make it deeper and specially aimed to seek an strategic alliance for sustainable development. Previously it was held in Madrid (2010), Lima (2008),Wien (2006), Guadalajara (2004),Madrid (2002) and Rio de Janeiro (1999). With 1070 million of inhabitants, the two sides of the Atlantic have strong cultural, historical and economical ties which goes as far back as the XV century, when it happened the “Encounter of two cultures”. Actually, the EU is the second commercial partner of Latin America and the Caribbean, the first foreign investor, and an active partner to support integration further . Latin America and the Caribbean are also working toward more integration, to solve challenges dealing with economic growth, economic development, reducing inequality and poverty. Latin America Integration, has been a long distance goal which have endured tough times because of ideology, geostrategic and political reasons ,each one at its own time. The XX century, did not allow strong results on integration, despite the effort in the sixties (for instance the Andean Pact and Latin America Free trade Association ), basically because it was a political driven process, therefore constrained to Government changes policies. Later in the nineties, it began a sort of second round following the external debt crisis ,with a draft of a Free Trade agreement from Alaska up to the extreme south America proposal , which was based on trade and investment as the basis for integration, very similar to the approach applied in Europe by then:”Politics inspired by business” .This approach meant to have the private sector as a key player , with a whole set of economic policies pro markets rightly designed for such purposes, which it was needed as well. This approach did not last too long. In the final years of that decade (1998-1999),It arose ideology as an alternative for integration goals: “Business inspired by politics”. The outcomes looks heterogeneous because while those countries which followed the “Politics inspired by business” approach, have made substantial progress ,the others with the alternative “Business inspired by politics” focus , face more difficulties with the economic fundamentals such as inflation ,public spending, exchange rates, wages, productivity and investment .Thus this Summit was a very useful space for reflection. analysis and evaluations . Based on the current European Union situation, It seems that the dilemma of politics or business as integration drivers ,might complement to each other.