Economic Problems of Latin America

By Seymour E. Harris | Go to book overview
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Chapter VIII Inter-American Trade Policy

by HENRY CHALMERS


THE SETTING OF THE CURRENT PROBLEM

WHAT has happened in the trade relations of the American republics during this war is reminiscent of the Maeterlinck play in which the characters go through various adventures in far-off lands in search of the Bluebird of Happiness, only to find it in the end in their own back yard. Similarly, it seems to have required the exigencies of war for the American republics fully to realize and to utilize the possibilities of supplying their import needs from each other. During this emergency, when most of the continent of Europe and the Far East were closed off by military developments, there has been much gratification over the extent to which the countries of the Western Hemisphere have been able to obtain from each other the essential raw materials and manufactured products for which they used to be largely dependent upon Europe or the Orient.

During the early period of the war, doleful prophecies were heard about what was going to happen to the Latin American countries, with their $500 million market on the continent of Europe cut off. Yet, for the third successive year, the increased purchases by the United States of Latin American commodities, new and old, are practically offsetting in value--if not in full range--the loss of those European markets. Far from the depression predicted for them in 1940, most of the countries of Latin America are now prospering. In a number of the southern republics, the United States procurement and development programs have stimulated local business conditions to the dimensions of a boom.

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