Evaluation of recent LatAm Regional Integration Efforts
In view of the recent articles on Latin American integration and cooperation it is obvious to conclude that while the intent for cooperation and regional integration still greatly exists among most MERCOSUR and UNASUR members, the lack of institutional support and clear efforts by some countries (such as Brazil and Argentina) to become regional hegemons, in addition to other countries such as Paraguay to reestablish itself on the Latin American arena stalls the overall process of regional cooperation and unity in the region, while also weakening the overall Latin American presence on the global economic field.
It is known that institutions in regionalism matter. This claim is widely acknowledged nowadays by most of the scholars whether on political theory, comparative politics, or international relations. As was discussed in the articles “Tourism trends of certain member countries have a negative effect on Mercosur” and “Paraguay, suspended from Mercosur,” where the latter has requested an observer status at the Pacific Alliance, it is obvious that Paraguay is doing what it thinks is best for Paraguay, thus pulling the blanket at itself to advance its economical strength, by trying to ally with Pacific Alliance. These examples (to name a few) demonstrate that if the required institutions were present to support member countries, to guide and to address legal matters states would not feel compelled to go after other organizations for support and trust, rather would try to solve their problems through cooperation and compromise, which in turn would promote the overall regionally unity.
Transparency also seems to be lacking in the relationship between most Latin American states, as addressed in the “Argentina promotes a delay in Mercosur-EU discussions for a free trade agreement” article, where Argentina seems to have its own agenda and view (different that of Brazil in this particular instance) of the event that took place as part of the UN summit, or when recently Mercosur and Unosur authoritative powers have influenced other organizations by turning them against Paraguay, such actions only create uncertainty about neighbour states behavior and underlining the reputational consequences of uncooperative behavior.
Additionally, it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the stalled trade in the region. However, at this point two themes emerge, one is that the reason behind this stalled trade and cooperation could be the member states overall dissatisfaction with the Mercosur as an organizational institution through its lack of support mechanisms, whereas another reason could be the member’s overall mistrust with one another along with constant pushing of individual agendas. It is likely that both points could be stirring the calls of inefficiency and urges the need to expand trade to include EU and North America, such is demonstrated by recently held UN-CELAC summit and International Defense and Security Fair (LAAD), that took place in Rio, Brazil.
On the positive note however, based on the recent news reports it is also obvious that the Latin American region has a desire to cooperate, demonstrated by the multitude of regional events and talks that are taking place. However it is somewhat unclear whether the intent to cooperate with UN and North America is greater than with its local countries. Lastly, it is reasonable to conclude that until the economic needs and interests of each member state are addressed and aligned with the region’s overall strategy (via Mercosur for instance) overcoming the cooperative barriers will remain a difficult challenge.