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11:32AM

West Hemisphere way behind on integrating intra-regional trade

Per the 10 March Economist editorial on Latin America's growing fears about being recaptured by China as just a source of commodities (deindustrialization) and per the recent Wikistrat sim on North America's Energy Export Boom where we discussed, in one master narrative, the notion of NAFTA using the lure of cheaper and cleaner energy to re-energize the Free Trade Area of the Americas initiative.

Now, you have to understand that this chart is misleading, because it counts intra-EU trade while not counting interstate trade within the multinational union known as the US.  If the stats were equalized on that scale, then the NorthAm numbers would be unreal.

But larger point about Latam's numbers being small (and presumably the W Hem numbers being commensurately low) is valid.  The US and the rest have not made the regional trade integration effort that is possible here, as South America is beginning to recognize its mistake is not pursuing FTAA.

People will paint this as de-globalization, but it's not a binary choice.  Globalization tends to push regions to up their regional integration for all sort of reasons, the primary one being the title of the editorial here: "unity is strength" in trade negoations.

But the long-term advantage here is substantial: if you want to grow, then you want to have high trade flows with faster-growing neighbors first and foremost.  China is doing that in SE Asia but US is not doing the same in W Hem, thus the strategic impulse now to go after things like reviving FTAA.

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