Former President of Uruguay: Latin America – Europe integration is a political issue, not a trade one
OREANDA-NEWS. November 02, 2015. The integration between Latin America and Europe is essential to balance the weight that Asia represents in the region. However, this is not a trade issue, but an issue of political willingness, said the former President of Uruguay, Jos? Mujica, on Tuesday.
"I think that our integration relies on a higher degree on political willingness, rather than on what trade can spontaneously do," said Mujica during the III CAF - Sciences Po Conference, which is held in Paris and aims at examining the new challenges of the relationship between Europe and Latin America.
The former Uruguayan President noted that Europe seems to be focused on their own problems and that hinders the involvement between the two regions. "I hope I'm wrong. I hope Europe will become aware of this and allow an opportunity to compensate the relationship that we have with Asia,"he said.
Mujica said that, nowadays, most of Latin American trade is held with China, while regional exchange represents only 20% of the trade in the region.
For this reason he expressed, in addition to a higher regional integration in Latin America "we need something to help us as an alternative, as a part of this trade relationship" to avoid relying on China. In that sense, Europe, for its culture and history, is "the obvious place to look at".
At the end of the lecture by the former President of Uruguay, a debate was held on the trends of world economy and its impact in Latin America, which included Enrique Iglesias, former Iberoamerican General Secretary and former President of the IDB; Jos? Antonio Ocampo, Professor at Columbia University, and former Finance Minister of Colombia, with the presence of Enrique Garc?a, executive president of CAF - development bank of Latin America, as a moderator.
Garcia presented the debate, recalling that two years ago, at the same conference organized by CAF and Sciences Po, most of the exhibitors were euphoric. "There was a decrease of poverty and an increase of middle class citizens." "But today there is only one new scenario'", he warned.
"This is certainly a change of era", Enrique Iglesias concurred. "There is a change in the paradigm of development, which is led today by technology and innovation".
Iglesias also considered that the middle classes are growing globally and that this makes the world more complicated since citizens protest and demand quality in growth.
But the panelists warned that the economies of the region could be belated by the financial adjustments that are being implemented.
"The fall of commodity prices hit us" said Ocampo. "The question is how strong will be the fall and how intense the financial adjustment will be," he added.
To avoid a backlash, they said, it is essential to deepen regional integration.
"Regional integration is not a luxury, it is a necessity," said Garcia.
The conference continued on Tuesday with three round tables with the participation of prominent politicians, businessmen, academics and journalists from both continents.
The first one made a balance of the II EU-CELAC Summit and the new challenges for the relaunch of inter-regionalism, while the second table addressed the issue of Europe and Latin America facing the Summit of climate change "Paris Climat 2015". Finally, the experts addressed the new commercial environment and the impact on global value chains.
As part of its strategic partnership, Sciences Po and CAF - development bank of Latin America, organized for the third time since 2011 this Conference through the center of international research (CERI) and the team of the Political Observatory in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC).