Publication: The Promise of Integration: Opportunities in a Changing Global Economy

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Riera-Crichton, Daniel
Vuletin, Guillermo
The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has proved to be relatively resilient in the face of increased debt stress, stubborn inflation, and uncertainty arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Income and employment have largely recovered from the pandemic, poverty has receded, and markets remain guardedly optimistic about the near future. However, global uncertainty is rising, including a recent wave of bank failures in the US and Europe. Strengthening resilience, both on the health and macroeconomic fronts, will be paramount. Progress remains pending in both vaccination coverage and health system preparedness, while the institutionality of macroeconomic policy in some countries is being questioned. The evolution of the global economy is providing two new areas of opportunity for the region: the trend toward nearshoring-moving production closer to the US and European markets-and the imperative to combat climate change, which is giving the region a new comparative advantage in sun, wind, hydro, and natural capital. Taking advantage of these will require greater integration into the global economy. Yet, paradoxically, in the face of these opportunities. LAC is becoming less integrated. Trade intensity has largely stagnated, and foreign direct investment (FDI) to most countries has declined. Beyond the long-term structural reforms needed to reduce systemic risk, raise the level and quality of education, invest in infrastructure, and ensure well-functioning financial markets, this report calls to preserve the reputational gains of the past 20 years in terms of macro stability and streamlining regulation dealing with customs and transport to lower the cost of doing business in the region. Export promotion agencies and investment promotion agencies can also help as they have proven track records. A comprehensive approach to both shorter- and longer-term reforms could move LAC toward a renewed and more dynamic engagement with the global economy.
Maloney, William Francis; Riera-Crichton, Daniel; Ianchovichina, Elena Ivanova; Vuletin, Guillermo; Beylis, Guillermo. 2023. The Promise of Integration: Opportunities in a Changing Global Economy. Latin America and the Caribbean Economic Review; April 2023. © World Bank, Washington DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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