Abstract: This essay analyzes the multiple, simultaneous challenges and electoral processes currently affecting the situation and political-economic orientation of nations comprising the PacificRim, or spine, of Latin America. It examines the likely collapse of the trans-pacific partnership, the uncertain future of the Pacific Alliance, upcoming presidential elections in the next two years in Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico, and another phenomenon, to conclude that the combination of these factors produces the possibility for significant change in the political and economic orientation of the region in the coming two years. It argues that such change, in combination with initiatives by the People’s Republic of China toward the region, could impact the commercial regime that links Asia and the Western Hemisphere, and indirectly, the security of the United States and the Region. The article recommends that decision makers in the U.S. and the region give more attention to the transformative potential of these dynamics in the short to medium term, and work to preserve the neo-liberal, democratic, pro-US orientation of these countries that are key to the future of the region.
Key Words: TRANS NAFTA, Pacific, China-Latin America Alliance
Introduction: In March 2017, in the shadow of the withdrawal of the United States from the trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries of the agreement, along with the people’s Republic of China (PRC) and South Korea, met in Santiago Chile to discuss the future of the trade regime which will dominate in the Pacific. In a manner similar to the strategic message presented by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit in November 2016, the intention of the PRC in Santiago towards the members of the TPP in Latin America was clear: take advantage of disorientation arising from the political change in the United States, to advance an alternative concept of trans-Pacific trade without the United States, and more advantageous to the PRC.
The main fight of the twentieth century in Latin America was of a politico-military nature, defined by an axis across the Atlantic between the United States and the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the struggle that defines the region of the 21st century is more politico-economic in nature, defined by an axis across the Pacific, between the United States and the PRC.
To understand the strategic framework of Latin America in the 21st century in this way, the most important aspect is not the size of the business, political, or military relationship with the PRC, versus the U.S., but rather the structure of the commercial interactions and associated political orientation that defines the relationship. It can be said that countries of the coast Pacific Latin America define geographical backbone of the continent, and with the importance of transpacific relations in the 21st century, it is also their economic and political backbone. At this time, the backbone of the region is in a process of uncertainty and transition, whose result will define the nature of the trade regime that prevails in the trans-Pacific and the political orientation of the continent. But, despite its historical importance, this moment of transition has received little attention by analysts and decision makers in the continent.
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