inicio | contacto | buscador | imprimir   
 
· Presentación
· Trayectoria
· Artículos y notas
· Newsletter (español)
· Newsletter (english)
· Radar Internacional
· Tesis de posgrado
· Programas de clase
· Sitios recomendados

Publicaciones
· Las crisis en el multilateralismo y en los acuerdos regionales
· Argentina y Brasil en
el sistema de relaciones internacionales
· Momentos y Perspectivas


  Félix Peña

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

A TIME FOR DIAGNOSIS, RENEWAL AND COORDINATION
The negotiating agenda of global trade and regional integration.


by Félix Peña
June 2019

English translation: Isabel Romero Carranza


 

During the second semester of 2019, the institutional fronts that stand out in the agenda of international trade negotiations and economic integration of Argentina and its Mercosur partners are that of the WTO at global level; that of Mercosur at regional level; and that of the Mercosur-EU agreement at the bi-regional level. This, without overlooking other negotiations in which they are also participating or that are beginning to develop, and which have different degrees of political and economic relevance.

The mentioned agenda of negotiations takes place in a complex and uncertain international context. Among other factors, the characteristics of the negotiations derive from the effects of the new configuration in the distribution of world power; the greater connectivity that technological change is generating between countries, companies and consumers-sometimes with multiple options for the development of their international strategies-and the proliferation of different types and degrees of ethnic, ideological, emotional and even religious fracture.

Three main qualities are required of any country that aspires to negotiate and to develop an efficient and intelligent insertion in the global international system and in its own region. The first requirement is to have an accurate diagnosis of the factors that are influencing the current changes in the structure and functioning of the international system. It is a diagnosis that requires continuous updating and a view from the perspective of each country. The second is to have concrete proposals on how to renew and adapt the respective institutional, global or regional spaces to the new world realities. Finally, the third is to provide practical ideas that have the potential to be effective, in order to achieve the coordination of the different national interests, both at global and regional institutional level.

The world has entered a phase of "polygamous" international relations, in which the protagonists try to develop multiple alliances, simultaneous and non-exclusive, and even contradictory with each other. It is a phase in which the paradigms, concepts and theoretical approaches from the past are becoming obsolete.


AIn the second semester of 2019, in the agenda of international trade and economic integration negotiations of Argentina and the Mercosur partners, those corresponding to the following institutional fronts stand out: that of the WTO at global level; that of Mercosur, at regional level; and that of the Mercosur-EU agreement, at the bi-regional level (see our article "Integration agreements in uncertain times", published in the Foreign Trade Supplement of La Nación newspaper on June 13, 2019, on https://www.lanacion.com.ar/; on the topic of the Mercosur, see the January 2019 edition of this newsletter on http://www.felixpena.com.ar/). This without overlooking other ongoing negotiations or that are beginning to develop, and which have different degrees of political and economic relevance.

The development of such agenda highlights the importance that the so-called Group of 8, or MAP Group, has for our country and the Mercosur partners as an ambit for trade negotiations, regional integration and agreement between the countries of the Pacific Alliance and the Mercosur, especially for their joint action at the global level (WTO) and in the Latin American regional environment (ALADI). (In this regard, see the May 2019 edition of this newsletter on http://www.felixpena.com.ar/, and our article published in "El Mercurio de Valparaíso" newspaper, on June 3, 2019).

The current one is a negotiation agenda to be developed in an increasingly complex and uncertain international context. Among other factors, its characteristics derive from the effects of the new configuration in the distribution of world power; of the greater connectivity that technological change is generating between countries, companies and consumers-which in many cases have multiple options for the development of their international strategies-and of the proliferation of different types and degrees of ethnic, ideological, emotional and even religious fractures.

As pointed out by experts in international politics, we have entered a phase of "polygamous" international relations in which the protagonists can choose to develop a strategy of various multiple alliances, simultaneous and non-exclusive, and in which the paradigms, concepts and theoretical approaches from the past are becoming obsolete.

In the case of economic integration agreements, especially if their founding legal instruments specify the permanence over time, it will be necessary for the different actors to state the reasons why a sovereign country chooses to associate permanently with another country or group of countries, especially the bordering ones (the existential dimension) and how such an association can actually be developed (the methodological dimension).

The changes that are currently being observed lead us to affirm that imagining the idea of economic integration between sovereign nations in similar terms to those that prevailed in other times would not be convenient or advisable. In this perspective, a dogmatic view of what should be, for example, a free trade zone or a customs union seems dated. This vision prevailed in the industrialized world until very recently, for example, in relation to the interpretation of Article XXIV of the GATT-WTO. It has conditioned -and would continue to do so-the protracted negotiation to conclude the bi-regional agreement between the EU and the Mercosur. In fact, perhaps it has been a determining factor in the difficulties that have been experienced to institutionalize the apparent intention to conclude this agreement.

What would be emerging would seem to be a phase of multiple alliances, simultaneous and flexible, of great dynamism in their development. It is a phase in which the development of "de facto solidarities", resulting from the linkage of economic policies and productive investment decisions based on the effectiveness of common rules, becomes more important. As Jean Monnet pointed out at the founding moments of the European integration, thus are generated sustainable collective disciplines among the associated countries.

But it is also a phase in which any given country, irrespective of its size, may have difficulties to navigate effectively in the global and regional environment, in order to achieve its vision and objectives, if it lacks a correct diagnosis of its capacity and its real possibilities in the competition for power and international markets.

Three qualities are then required of any country that aspires to develop an efficient and intelligent insertion in the global international system and in its own region. The first is to have a good diagnosis of the factors that are affecting the current changes in the structure and functioning of the international system. It is a diagnosis that requires continuous updating from the perspective of each country. The second is to have concrete and acceptable proposals on how the institutional, global or regional spaces in which a country operates can be renewed and adapted to the new realities. And the third, is to provide practical ideas that have the potential to be effective in order to achieve the coordination of national interests at global and regional institutional level.

From the global agenda of this second semester, the issue of the reforms of the multilateral system of international trade, institutionalized in the WTO, should be noted for its importance for the Latin American countries (see the February 2019 edition of this newsletter on http://www.felixpena.com.ar/). Among other relevant issues that are also being debated between the member countries, the strengthening of the dispute settlement mechanism stands out due to its immediacy and practical relevance. Specifically, in practice, it prevents the appointment of new members to the appellate body, which is in fact blocked and that, should the current situation continue, would be paralyzed by the end of this year.

What is really at stake is the functioning of a mechanism whose practical effect is the preservation of a multilateral trading system guided by common rules (see the article by Carlos López mentioned as recommended reading: "WTO Reform and the Rule of Law ", on http://opiniojuris.org/). The existing dispute settlement mechanism ensures that the common rules are not exposed to the discretion of the countries with greater relative power. This function is essential to preserve the validity of the main contribution that derives from the current multilateral trading system since the creation of the GATT, which is the "principle of non-discrimination".

The Latin American countries -including Argentina, the Mercosur countries and those of the Pacific Alliance-would have much to lose if they fail to preserve the functioning of a mechanism that guarantees the effective predominance of the rules agreed in the multilateral system of trade. Hence the importance of the countries of the region playing an active and assertive role in the harmonization of interests among the member countries of the WTO, in order to achieve reasonable and balanced solutions to the issue of the dispute settlement mechanism, which is a central aspect of the broader issue of the reforms that are needed to make the WTO more effective.


Recommended Reading:



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


Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a monthly e-mail with the
latest articles published on this site.


 

Regresar a la página anterior | Top de la página | Imprimir artículo

 
Diseño y producción: Rodrigo Silvosa