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  Félix Peña

INTERNATIONAL TRADE RELATIONS NEWSLETTER
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CRISES, WARS AND FRACTURES IN THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM:
Lessons from history on their recurrence and their impact on world trade

por Félix Peña
April 2022


 

As we pointed out in our March newsletter, it is important to bear in mind that in any country there are at least three perspectives when defining an international trade insertion strategy. These are the national perspective, the perspective of the country's geographical region and the global perspective.

We can identify several issues that could be part of an agenda of common competitive advantages for the countries of the South American region. These are: environmental protection and policies related to the effects of climate change; the variety of natural resources, particularly those related to the production of food and other smart goods; the cultural convergence resulting from the miscegenation that characterizes the region; and belonging to the South Atlantic, which is shared to a large extent with the South African region.

Perhaps the time has come to develop more systematically a network of international action-oriented think tanks in the South American countries. Such a network, if it also had the support and active participation of developmental financing agencies operating in the region, would help harness the full potential that could result from LAIA conceived as a useful instrument for international trade, integration and the development of South American countries.

The current crisis in Ukraine reinforces the need to analyze integration processes, such as those currently underway in South America and Latin America, especially in the context of Mercosur, with a broad approach that includes all the factors that affect trade and economic development, but which extend to the strengthening of the conditions for the prevalence of peace and political stability in the region as a whole.


The war in Ukraine has unleashed tensions and uncertainties which could even be intensifying at the time of writing this newsletter. Their future implications are difficult to forecast, but they can be imagined as soon as we take into account historical experiences such as those of the last two world wars of the last century.

This is another sign of the times. Both the current tensions and the events that generate them would indicate that we are entering a new cycle in the international order that will affect world trade. It could even mean entering an anarchic world, a world of crises, wars and fragmentation with effects on global trade that are difficult to foresee.
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This leads us to reflect on how to facilitate the design of an effective international trade insertion strategy in our country and in the South American region. As we pointed out in our previous Newsletter, it is necessary to bear in mind that in any country there are at least three perspectives when defining such a strategy. These are the national perspective, the perspective of the geographical region to which a country belongs, and the global perspective.

The first is the national perspective itself. It is the one that enables a country to integrate into world markets in consonance with what it understands to be its interests, priorities and possibilities. This means having an updated diagnosis of what it needs and can obtain from other markets, in terms of goods, services, technologies and financing. It also implies having an adequate organization, both at a business and governmental level, to influence the effectiveness of the actions aimed at achieving the objectives that are favored for the country's international insertion.

At the level of the diagnosis of a country's international context, the quality of the action-oriented competitive intelligence of the areas of analysis and research available in the country itself acquires great importance. This also includes networks of connections with similar institutions in other countries.

The second perspective is the regional one. It refers to the degree of practical knowledge available in a country with respect to the other countries of the geographical region to which it belongs. It is a knowledge that implies quality and precision in the diagnosis of a country's own geographical region, including the many actors influencing foreign trade; their needs, preferences and possibilities.

The third is the global perspective, that is, knowledge of the factors and protagonists that affect the country's ability to compete in other countries and regions of the global scenario. Today it is necessary to have a strong connection and sound competitive intelligence about many countries. And they outweigh what South American countries, especially the smaller ones, can achieve on their own. This reinforces even more the convenience of combining efforts, especially with other countries in the region.

By way of example, we can mention some issues that could be part of an agenda of common competitive advantages of the countries in the South American region. These are: environmental protection and policies related to the effects of climate change; the variety of natural resources, particularly those linked to the production of food and other smart goods; cultural convergence as a result of the miscegenation that characterizes the region; and belonging to the South Atlantic, shared to a large extent with the region of South Africa.

In light of the recent experience of the war in Ukraine, one of the clear advantages of the South American countries is the fact that they have not developed nuclear weapons. This advantage of the South American region, which is also common to the whole of Latin America, has a very special significance, both politically and economically. The experience resulting from the relationship between Argentina and Brazil since the eighties should be valued from such a perspective. In this regard, it is worth remembering one of the meetings held in 1980, which may be considered as one of the starting points of the agreements later reached by the governments of Presidents Alfonsín and Sarney. (See the special issue on Brazil-Argentina published by the Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional (IBRI), 93-96, 1981).

Perhaps the time has come for the South American region to develop a network of international action-oriented think tanks that includes the above-mentioned issues in its agenda. Its main objective would be to foster the creation of possible joint work programs to be undertaken in the spheres of government, business, culture, and R&D.

In recent years, South American countries, even jointly with other Latin American countries, have made efforts to strengthen their capacity for commercial action in the international arena. Their results, however, have been inferior in terms of effectiveness and sustainability to those obtained by other regions.

A network such as the one suggested, which would also have the support and active participation of the developmental financing agencies operating in the South American region, would even make it possible to harness the full potential that could result from LAIA, conceived as an instrument for international trade, integration and development of the South American countries. Also important would be the simultaneous joint effort together with other countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region. In addition, the RIAL (Latin American Council on International Relations) could also play an effective role in this regard.

Moreover, it is also possible that, depending on how the current crisis in Ukraine evolves, the positive view of regional integration processes will increase, for both economic and political reasons. The impact on the European Union, for example, could be severe. The Ukrainian government has already expressed its interest in accelerating its incorporation into the EU, precisely because of the experience gained in the aftermath of World War II. Let us remember that the ideas that originated in 1950, among others with Jean Monnet, Robert Schumann and Konrad Adenauer, were based on the need to avoid the recurrence of the factors that had led to the two World Wars of the last century.

The current crisis in Ukraine has, therefore, strengthened the need to analyze integration processes such as those currently underway in South America and Latin America, especially within Mercosur, with a broad approach that certainly considers all the factors that affect trade and economic development, but which transcend to the level of strengthening the conditions for the predominance of peace and political stability in the region as a whole.


Lecturas recomendadas:


  • Ackerman, Elliot; Stavridis, Admiral James, "2034. A Novel of the Next World War", Penguin Books, New York 2022.
  • Acharya, Amitav, "Europe just became the world's more dangerous place", East Asia Forum, 21 March 2022, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org.
  • Amstrong, Shiro, "The Economic consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine", East Asia Forum, 20 March 2022, en https://www.eastaasiaforum.org.
  • Amstrong Shiro; Wetsland, Tom, "The lessons of the economic war on Russia", East Asia Forum, 20 March 2022, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org.
  • Amstrong, Shiro, "Avoiding a Ukraine-induced ,global food crisis will take global leadership", 13 March 2022, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org.
  • Bhatnagar, Stuti, "The Indian piece of the Russia-Ukraine puzzle", East Asia Forum, 24 Marche 2022, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org.
  • BID-INTAL, "Comercio e Integración en el Mundo post.COVID-19. Oportunidades y desafíos para América Latina y el Caribe", Prólogo de Ana Basco, Directora del BID-INTAL, Buenos Aires 2021.
  • Cohen, Stephen F., "War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russigate", Hot Books, New York 2019.
  • Fraser, Nicholas; Navarro, Marysa, "The Real Lives of Eva Perón", Andre Deutsch, London 2003.
  • Granés, Carlos, "Delirio Americano. Una historia cultural y política de América Latina", Taurus, Barcelona 2022.
  • Hass, Ryan, "Ukraine an opportunity to test China's strategic outlook", East Asia Forum, 9 March 2022, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org.
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  • Herron, Francis, "Letters from the Argentine", G.P.Putnam's Sons, New York 1943.
  • Mulder, Nicholas, "The Economic Weapon. The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War", Yale University Press, New Haven and London 2022.
  • Mulder, Nicholas, "The Toll of Economic War. How Sanctions on Russia Will Upend the Global Order", Foreign Affairs, March 22, 2022.
  • Myers, Steven Lee, "El Nuevo zar. Ascenso y reinado de Vladimir Putin", Península - Huellas, Barcelona 2018.
  • Norrlöf, Carla, "The New Economic Containment. Russian Sanctions Signal Commitment to International Order", Foreign Affairs, March 18, 2022.
  • Pempel, T.J., "A Region of Regimes. Prosperity & Plunder in the Asia-Pacific", Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2021.
  • Peña, Félix. "Por qué es importante que los países sudamericanos trabajen en red", diario La Nación, suplemento comercio exterior, 10 de marzo 2022, página 3.
  • Petro Urrego, Gustavo, "Una Vida, Muchas Vidas", Planeta Colombiana, Bogotá2021.
  • Posen, Adam S., "The End of Globalization? What Russia's War in Ukraine Means for the World Economy?", Foreign Affairs, March 17, 2022.
  • Quinqquo, Jia, "China-US cooperation is the key to peace", East Asia Forum 14 March 2022, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org.
  • Sarotte, Mary Elise, "Dealing with the Devil. East Germany, Dëtente, and Ostpolitik, 1969-1973", The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London 2001
  • Sarotte, Mary Elise, "1989. The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe", Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford 2009.
  • Stares, Paul B., "Preventive Engagement. How America can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the Peace", A Council on Foreign Relations Book, Columbia University Press, New York 2018.
  • Stares, Paul B., "Preparing for the Next Foreign Policy Crisis. What the United States Should Do", Discussion Paper, Council on Foreign Relations, Center for Preventive Action, New York 2019.
  • Stares, Paul B., Jia Quingguo, Tocci, Nathalie, Jaishankar, Dhruva, Kortunov, Andrey, "Perspectives on a Changing World Order", Discussion Paper Series on Managing Global Disorder n° 1,New York 2020.
  • Timmer, Peter, "Ukraine crisis feeds fears of another food crisis", East Asia Forum, 13 March 2022, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org.
  • Warleigh-Lack, Alex. "European Union - The Basics", Routledge- Second Edition, London and New York 2009.
  • Yofre, Juan B., "La Trampa. Por qué y cómo el proceso tomó la decisión de ocupar las Malvinas. Cronología documentada de un fracaso", Sudamericana, Buenos Aires 2022.

Félix Peña es Director del Instituto de Comercio Internacional de la Fundación ICBC; Director de la Maestría en Relaciones Comerciales Internacionales de la Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF); Miembro del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales (CARI). Miembro del Brains Trust del Evian Group. Ampliar trayectoria.

http://www.felixpena.com.ar | info@felixpena.com.ar


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