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el sistema de relaciones internacionales
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  Félix Peña

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Ideas, beliefs, values, dreams, plagues ... in a hyper-connected global context

by Félix Peña
April 2020

English translation: Isabel Romero Carranza


Understanding the crisis that currently affects the international system implies having access to timely and quality information that can therefore be considered reliable.

The COVID-19 pandemic demands clarity about the growing effects that it can have, in a hyper-connected world, on the flows of goods, services, ideas, beliefs, values, dreams ... but also of plagues, such as the myriad variations of terrorist and cybernetic attacks.

The current crisis is clearly showing us that, in addition to living in a hyper-connected world, we are also in a hyper-contagious world.

International trade and its protagonists will also suffer the effects of this crisis, both globally, regionally and in each of the countries. Hence the importance of having up-to-date and quality information on the pandemic and its current and potential effects, which can already be perceived in regional trade and in the Latin American integration.

It is very possible that the current pandemic highlights the need to introduce innovations in the institutions (decision-making systems, management and creation of ground rules) of global and regional governance, the scope of which will be defined in the upcoming months, based on the garnered experience.

The three scenarios should also be evaluated in the perspective of other negotiating fronts of Argentina and its Mercosur partners. Among others, the negotiations that will have to be undertaken globally to avoid a collapse of the WTO, or to achieve an alternative framework of rules and institutions that help maintain a global trading system based on rules. Here we must also include the negotiations for the development of regional and trans-regional spheres that facilitate the expansion of trade and investment.

Understanding the factors that lead to a global systemic crisis is essential when aspiring to overcome it. This is the case of the current coronavirus pandemic. Addressing it in a timely and, eventually, successful manner, requires having access to opportune and quality information, that is, therefore, reliable.

In particular, it implies having a great capacity for coordination that can be externalized at all the levels involved in the crisis, which are the global, the regional and the domestic. Each of them may require multiple unfolding if the aim is to understand the current and, especially, the future developments of this systemic crisis.

It is certainly not a crisis that gives room for simplistic and one-dimensional approaches. On the contrary, its approach will require understanding its multiple and profound complexities.

Furthermore, it will be necessary to place the current global crisis within the framework of a correct interpretation of the profound changes that are taking place in the international system. Understanding the effects of the current COVID-19 pandemic, demands being clear about the growing effects that a hyper-connected world has on the flows of goods, ideas, beliefs, values, dreams ... and also of plagues and the myriad variations of terrorist or cyber-attacks that will continue to occur.

The current crisis is indicating that, in addition to living in a hyper-connected world, we are also in a hyper-contagious world. Both qualities make it inadvisable to try to remain isolated from the global or regional context.

International trade and its protagonists will not be able to shun the effects of this crisis, be it globally, regionally or domestically. Hence the importance of having quality and up-to-date information on the pandemic, including the current and potential effects that can already be perceived in regional trade and in the Latin American integration. Also important is to have relevant information on the impacts on the regional integration processes, such as Mercosur, the European Union and the Pacific Alliance (that is, those that can have the greatest impact on our country), and the global institutional settings, especially the World Trade Organization (WTO).

It is also very possible that the current pandemic highlights the need to introduce innovations in the institutions (decision-making systems, management and creation of ground rules) of global and regional governance, the scope of which will be defined in the upcoming months based on the garnered experience.

In the current crisis, we find the publication of a new periodic newsletter by INTAL-IADB on the "Impacts of the COVID-19 in foreign trade, investment and integration in Latin America and the Caribbean" very positive. Its first issue is dated March 27, 2020. We especially highlight the practical value of the section on page 2, entitled "Recent documents and work on trade and COVID-19" (

It should be remembered that the Institute for the Integration of Latin America (INTAL), was created sixty-five years ago at the initiative of the then President of the IADB, Felipe Herrera and its first Director, Gustavo Lagos. The idea was to have a regional space for analysis and reflection, which would allow an independent vision of the integration processes, but which was, at the same time, directly linked to the world of concrete action and realities. With its new publication, the INTAL is fulfilling one of its founding tenets, which is precisely to aid in the knowledge and understanding, by different types of protagonists, of the multiple ramifications of the different experiences of joint work between the countries of the region.

Under recommended reading, we have included several of the books by Ian Goldin from the University of Oxford ( His curriculum helps explain his multidimensional vision of international reality. The reading of his work -which for obvious reasons cannot always be thorough- helps insert the current phenomenon of the pandemic in the broader framework of the growing changes that are affecting global governance, in particular, due to its impact on the different variants of systemic risk. (In addition to the recommended work listed below, refer to Ian Goldin's TED talks, most especially the 2009 TED Global "Navigating our future", on

Recommended Reading:

  • Abrao Neto; Hyatt, Ken; Godinho, Daniel; Schineller; Braga, Roberta, "US_Brazil Trade and FDI: Enhancing the Bilateral Economic Relationship", APEX Brasil - Atlantic Council, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, Washington DC. March 2020.
  • Amstrong, Robert, "Coronavirus is a global crisis, not a crisis of globalization. The distinction matters as leaders will otherwise draw the wrong lessons", Financial Times, London, March 3, 2020.
  • Arguello, Jorge, "Lo que el coronavirus demuestra", diario Perfil, 29 de marzo 2020.
  • Brook, Thimothy, "Great State. China and the World", HarperCollins Publishers, Digital Edition 2020.
  • Carmody, Patricio, "La peste del coronavirus impacta en la política internacional", diario El Cronista, 27 de marzo 2020, en
  • Camus, Albert,"La Peste. Une peste inconnue", ebooksgratuits, Paris, fevrier 2011.
  • De Kruif, Paul, "Microbe Hunters", introduction by F.Gonzalez-Crussi, A Harvest Book, New York 1926-1954-1996.
  • Denton, John; Drysdale, Peter, "A problem requiring global solution", East Asia Forum, March 19, 2020.
  • East Asia Forum, "G20 leaders fail to step up", Editorial Board ANU, March 30, 2020, en
  • Evenett, Simon; Fritz, Johannes, "Going It Alone? Trade Policy after Three Years of Populism", The 25th Global Trade Alert Report, CEPR Press - Max Schmidheiny Foundation - Global Trade Alert, London 2019.
  • Evenett, Simon, "Tackling Corona Virus. The Trade Policy Dimension", Prepared by the Global Trade Alert team - University of St.Gallen, Switserland, 11 March 2020.
  • Frankel, Jeffrey, "Will coronavirus trigger a global recessions?", The Guardian, London 26 February 2020.
  • Friedman, George, "The Storm before the Calm. America's Discord, The Coming Crisis of the 2020's, and the Triumph Beyond", Doubleday, New York 2020.
  • Giordano, Paolo, "How Contagion Works. Science, Awareness and Community in Times of Global Crisis", Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London 2020.
  • Giordano, Paolo, "En Tiempos de Contagio", Narrativa Salamandra, Barcelona marzo 2020.
  • Goldin, Ian; Reinert, Kenneth, "Globalization for Development. Trade, Finance, Aid, Migration, and Policy", A co-publication of the World Bank and Palgrave Macmillan, Washington 2007.
  • Goldin, Ian; Cameron, Geoffrey; Balarajan; Meera, "Exceptional People. How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future", A Princeton University Press E-Book, Princeton and Oxford 2011.
  • Goldin, Ian, "Divided Nations. Why Global Governance is Failing, and What We Can Do About It", Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013.
  • Goldin, Ian; Mariathasan, Mike, "The Butterfly Defect. How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do About It", Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford 2014.
  • Goldin, Ian; Kutarna, Chris, "Age of Discovery. Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance", Bloomsbury Publishing, London-New York 2016.
  • Goldin, Ian, "The Pursuit of Development. Economic Growth, Social Change, and Ideas", Oxford University Press, Oxford 2016.
  • González, Anabel, "Carta a los Ministros de Comercio sobre cómo la política comercial puede ayudar a combatir el COVID-19", Peterson Institute for International Economics - PIIE, 23 de marzo 2020, en .
  • GPMB, "Un Mundo en Peligro. Informe anual sobre preparación para las emergencias sanitarias", Junta de Vigilancia Mundial de la Preparación, OMS-Grupo Banco Mundial, Ginebra 2019
  • Hatton, Timothy J. Williamson, Jeffrey G., "Global Migration and the World Economy. Two Centuries of Policy and Performance", The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts-London 2008.
  • INTAL-BID, "Impacto del COVID-19 en el comercio exterior, las inversiones y la integración de América Latina y el Caribe", Newsletter de INTAL-BID, N° 1, 27 de marzo 2020.
  • IRI, "Revista de Relaciones Internacionales", Instituto de Relaciones Internacionales - Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Año 28 - N° 57, Julio/Diciembre 2019.
  • Khanna, Parag, "Connectography. Mapping the Global Network Revolution", Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London 2016.
  • Khanna, Parag, "The Future is Asian. Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st. Century", Simon & Schuster, New York 2019.
  • Kucharki, Adam, "The Rules of Contagion. Why Things Spread -and Why They Stop", Profiles Books, London 2020.
  • Legrain Philippe, "The Coronavirus is killing globalization as we know it", Foreign Policy, March 12, 2020.
  • Letwin, Oliver, "Apocalypse How? Technology and the Threat of Disaster". Atlantic Books, London 2020.
  • Malamud, Carlos; Nuñez, Rogelio, "El COVID19 en América Latina: desafíos políticos, retos para los sistemas sanitarios e incertidumbres económicas", Real Instituto Elcano, ARI27/2020, 17 de marzo 2020.
  • OECD, "Coronavirus: The world economy at risk", OECD Interim Economic Assessment, Paris, 2 March 2020.
  • Oeking, Anne, "Coronavirus economic impact in East and Southeast Asia", East Asia Forum, 4 March 2020, en
  • Olostone, Michael B.A., "Viruses, Plagues & History. Past, Present, and Future", Oxford University Press, Oxford-New York 2010.
  • Ord, Toby, "The Precipice. Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity", Bloomsbury Publishing, London 2020.
  • Snowden, Frank M., "Epidemics and Society. From the Black Death to the Present", Yale University Press, New Haven and London 2019.
  • UNCTAD, "Global trade impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Epidemic", UNCTAD Technical Note, Geneva , 4 March 2020.
  • USAL, "Informe económico mensual mensual", Instituto de Investigación -Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales - Universidad del Salvador, Nro.181 - Año 20, 12 de marzo de 2020.

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. |

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