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Latin America's Intraregional Trade: Evolution and Future Prospects


  • Sebastian Edwards
  • Miguel Savastano


This paper analyzes in detail the evolution of Latin America's international trade patterns, focusing on intraregional trade and on the formal attempts made to create free trade zones or custom unions. In particular, we assess the role of intraregional trade in the structural adjustment required by the Latin American debt crisis. The data analyzed show that the success of the commercial integration process has been quite limited. They also show that there has been no significant change in the DECO countries' share in Latin American imports or in the volume of intraregional trade flows since the early 1970s. Furthermore, the nature of the adjustment to the debt crisis of the 1980s indicate that Latin American markets possess a rather limited capacity to absorb a substantial increase in regional exports in the current context. Thus, we conclude that the success of the required expansion in Latin American exports will depend more on the region's ability to design innovative mechanisms to penetrate the markets of industrialized countries than on the deepening of any regional trade integration process.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Edwards & Miguel Savastano, 1988. "Latin America's Intraregional Trade: Evolution and Future Prospects," NBER Working Papers 2738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2738
    Note: ITI IFM

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wionczek, Miguel S., 1978. "Can the broken Humpty-Dumpty be put together again and by whom? Comments on the Vaitsos survey," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 6(6), pages 779-782, June.
    2. Anne O. Krueger & Hal B. Lary & Terry Monson & Narongchai Akrasanee, 1980. "Trade and Employment in Developing Countries, Volume 1: Individual Studies," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number krue80-1, July.
    3. Evans, Peter B., 1986. "State, capital, and the transformation of dependence: The Brazilian computer case," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(7), pages 791-808, July.
    4. Harry G. Johnson, 1965. "An Economic Theory of Protectionism, Tariff Bargaining, and the Formation of Customs Unions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 256-256.
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    Cited by:

    1. Altonji, Joseph G & Hayashi, Fumio & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1997. "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1121-1166, December.

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