Regionalization and Globalization in the Modern World Economy: Perspectives on the Third World and Transitional Economies

By Alex E. Fernández Jilberto; André Mommen | Go to book overview

10

REGIONAL INTEGRATION PROCESSES IN LATIN AMERICA

Argentina and MERCOSUR

Miguel Teubal

INTRODUCTION

Important social and economic transformations have been taking place in recent years. The end of the Cold War and the triumph of neo-liberalism have not led necessarily to a fully fledged ‘open’ world economy as might have been expected. While the promotion of multilateralism is the proclaimed objective of public policy in many countries and by international organizations, the emergence and consolidation of regional trade and economic blocs have also become a significant trend in the new world scenario. This is probably more a sign that increased intercapitalist rivalry, as between the main centres of world capitalism and with regards to the interests prevailing in each, continues to influence international developments now that the East-West divide of the Cold War has been set aside.

The formation and strengthening of regional trade blocs in the European Community (EC), the Far East Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) seem to reflect these trends. Important areas of the Third World have become associated with one or another of these trade blocs. Increasingly, decisions previously pertaining to the nation-state are being ‘internationalized’ and/or transferred to regional economic blocs. Nevertheless, as explained below, certain elements of these integration processes are contradictory to what could be expected regarding the development of a completely ‘open’ world economy and the liberalization policies predicated by the IMF and World Bank.

While the EC was in the making for several decades, it now emerges as one of the main world economic blocs, probably much more fortified than ever before. NAFTA can be seen as a response to this new scenario, reflecting the need the USA has to enhance her own power base. NAFTA has tended to cater mostly to the main corporate interests of the USA, and to a lesser extent, Canada and Mexico. Finally, in the Far East, though not always formally institutionalized, a series of trade and economic groupings associated with Japan or Japanese interests are also greatly influencing regional developments.

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