Latin America has gone global, but not just in its trade and diplomacy. A growing number of governments are copying from autocrats around the world how to restrict democratic civil society. Sadly, democrats in the region have been slow to react.
In just over a decade, China has become a global leader in development finance. China has established a number of bilateral and multilateral funds across the world, in addition to two policy banks. China has also led efforts to establish new multilateral development banks that promise to provide significant financing capabilities into the regime as well.
Personal contacts and questionable contracts between the government and the Chinese company CAMC Engineering reveal both the problems with public procurement in Bolivia and how far Chinese companies have advanced in the country.
Latin America invests about 2% of GDP on infrastructure. Between 1992 and 2011 China invested an average of 8.5% of GDP in infrastructure per year. Given the demonstrated effects of infrastructure on development and poverty reduction, it’s time for the region to make a concerted effort to attract foreign investors.
The new, the exotic, the previously forbidden fruit may appear to be the most tantalizing, but objective criteria should form the realist metric on which to measure all business decisions. The incremental and marginal changes in trade with Cuba are just that—incremental and marginal.
The negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership should force a serious discussion of the goals of U.S. bilateral development assistance in the region. As U.S. policy invests more to promote trade integration and link it to global geo-strategic goals, it’s time to think about how to recast development assistance to help countries participate and compete in these new trade agreements.