Governance and responsibility: proposals for human and solidary development Regional financial integration in Latin-American
Details of the Proposal

Also available in Français, Español


1. Introduction


This working document is to be presented by Latindadd ahead of the symposium entitled Governance and Responsibility: proposals for human, solidarity-based development that will take place under the organization of the CCFD – Terre Solidaire in Paris from the 8th – 9th December 2011.


This document has three main objectives. Firstly, to show where Latindadd stands on issues surrounding regional financial integration; secondly, to try and bring to light relevant information that will allow us to promote and broaden the debate on this issue; and finally, to look at concrete initiatives which have been set up in the region regarding this issue.


In this sense, this document does not seek to try and cover all of the complexities of the debate surrounding integration (much has been written on this subject and our aim is not to analyse the subject in its entirety in this document), nor does it seek to put forward technical proposals. Instead, it aims to set out political guidelines that we consider must be followed to achieve regional integration in Latin America – guidelines which reflect upon and respond to analysis and political debate that has been carried out in Latin America on the current international crisis.


2. Context


a. The international political situation


The international financial crisis has had a much greater and prolonged impact than international decision-makers thought it would have when it first emerged. This is reflected in the financial and budgetary crises that are affecting the United States and many industrialized countries in Europe, countries with levels of debt which largely exceed those of developing countries and which have made their economies and their ability to repay these debts fragile. This has in turn left these countries exposed to speculative attacks in the markets.


Latin America is observing the measures being taken in Europe with some concern, as the latter is implementing austerity measures which southern (developing) countries have already experienced and which generally lead to recession – the consequences of which being a drop in consumption resulting in less tax revenues. These measures do not reduce debt or resolve financial problems but instead create difficulties for repaying debts, as well as keeping countries in recession and creating more social conflicts.

Furthermore, there is concern over the negative impact that a recession in developed countries could have on world demand, especially when it comes to trade and investment.


The G20 totally lacks the political will needed to effectively regulate the financial sector and, above all, the commodities market, which brings with it the additional problem of rises in food prices, a problem which affects countries that are net importers of these products.


Ultimately, this problem shows that the relationship between the global forces is changing and needs to be adapted. It is major emerging countries who have surpluses and who are maintaining the deficits in industrialized countries. This situation, however, does not appear to be sustainable in the long term. Reforming of the global monetary system will need to take place sooner or later, and even more so given that faith in the dollar is gradually dwindling at a global level and that the euro, with all of the problems is currently faces to survive, will not be able to position itself as the global currency of reference. In August China had already begun to sell off part of its dollar reserves – only a very small part when we consider the total level of its reserves, but nevertheless a percentage equivalent to that of Peru’s entire international reserves. Indeed, we could be witnessing the beginning of a trend – one that many economists are already talking about – by which countries get rid of their international dollar reserves before a significant devaluation renders them useless, which in turn would speed up the dollar devaluation process.


The global situation appears complicated, with major possibilities that the decisions taken (or the lack of decisions taken) could deepen the crisis and prolong recession, which would affect less developed countries that had nothing to do with creating these crises in the first place. G20 countries have approved injections of capital aimed at increasing bank solvency, but they have not been able to agree on more far-reaching policies to reform the system as a whole. Ultimately, they are implementing measures which paint over the cracks without resolving the structural problems which caused the crisis.


b. The regional situation


In Latin America, the impact of the crisis has arrived mainly through three channels: trade, finance and remittances. Firstly, with the fall of some of the USA’s major banks, credit flows between banks as well as commercial credit flows needed for export purposes (credit cards, etc) have dried up. This has had an important impact not only on trade with the US and Europe but also trade between the countries in the region, as intraregional transactions are also made in dollars and via financial institutions in the US. Secondly, we have also seen a drop in demand from developed countries whose imports are decreasing. Finally, in many cases (especially in Central America and Ecuador) there has been a drop in remittances sent back by migrants.


The macroeconomic effects of the crisis, however, are being felt differently within the region depending on the country concerned. Mexico, for example, is much more closely linked to industrialized countries when it comes to trade, meaning that the crisis generated an abrupt slowdown in the country’s growth.


The crisis, however, has had a much smaller impact on South America, due to two main factors. The first is due to its production model. At the start of the crisis we saw a slight dip in the price of commodities – the regions main products and exports – but the price rapidly rose again. Indeed, in many cases commodities act as a refuge in this period of uncertainty, firstly when it comes to minerals (gold, silver, copper etc) and then when it comes to all commodities in general. All of this helps to maintain prices and push them up further.


Secondly, during the neoliberal mania of the 90s, countries in the region saw themselves obliged to accumulate international reserves (whilst having to reduce social spending) and reduce the deficit of their public accounts. This meant that the region was less vulnerable in macroeconomic terms, and that countries could rely on their resources to implement anticyclic policies allowing them to compensate, to a certain extent, for the drop in demand from developed countries.


One thing that is also clear is that trade-related changes have also led to variations in the effects of the crisis throughout the region. The countries which have most diversified their export markets are those which have registered better results during the crisis. For many South American countries, for example, Europe and the US are no longer their main export markets, and Asia now plays an important role. Some countries which, for their part, have strengthened their intraregional markets, may also come out of the crisis more successfully – such as Central America, for example, which has only seen a 6.2% drop in exports1.


As the crisis drags on, however (and possibly sooner rather than later), we could witness a global recession that will affect demand from industrialized countries, which will in turn affect our exports and probably the price of commodities too. Furthermore, given that currently everything is done using dollars, the impact will hit intraregional trade in particular – a type of trade which has greater added value and which has the greatest impact on job creation in the region.


It is for this reason that it is important to begin analyzing long term measures. The region’s international dollar reserves are extremely high and have given the region good room for manoeuvre when it comes to resolving exchange rate problems, but they are not so high when we compared to major capital flows in times of crisis (or even when compared to the reserves of countries like China). Furthermore, we cannot use them entirely as we please, that is to say purely to maintain industrialized countries’ deficits at a low cost. It must also be added that with the devaluation of the dollar regional savings are becoming worth less and less (as well as becoming less useful).


It is for this reason that we have to take advantage of this moment that is so ripe with dialogue and debate to generate different conditions for the creation of a regional financial system, one that allows us to promote the resources we have and to use these resources to generate better conditions for development.


Proposals and abstracts


  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Context
    • a. The international political situation
    • b. The regional situation
  • 3. Regional integration
  • 4. A proposal for financial integration in Latin America
  • 5. The state of dialogue within the region: A synthesis of proposals already put forward.
    • a. UNASUR
    • b. Development banks
    • c. Reserve funds
    • d. Currency
  • 6. Additional proposals from social organizations
    • a. Financial regulation
    • b. Arbitral tribunals
  • 7. Future scenarios