The world is immersed in a time of great change, in which international balances have been broken and new challenges and geopolitical tensions have emerged. China is the new major global player: it has extended its tentacles through investments and is the protagonist of a trade war with the US that rages everywhere. Europe, on the other hand, has lost relevance. But the board is moving. "I am convinced that we are in a very important, positive moment of a relaunch of relations between Latin America and Europe," said Andrés Allamand, Ibero-American Secretary General (Segib). In this renewed approach there are an infinite number of business, economic and strategic opportunities. "Latin America does not want to be gripped by the struggle between the United States and China," said the former Chilean minister during a lunch organized in Madrid by the Business Council Alliance for Ibero-America (Ceapi), so the entry of a third actor would open "enormous opportunities."
Although the European Union remains the first investor and the third trading partner of the Latin American region, in recent years it has been displaced by Beijing, which has become very strong on the continent. First, boosting commercial activities; and then, through huge injections of capital with a long-term vocation that have made the Asian country the leading investor in the region. "Europe must have a more active presence. Latin America needs Europe to compete with China," Allamand insisted during the event, held at the offices of the law firm Gómez-Acebo & Pombo after the celebration of the board of directors of the business organization.
The Spanish presidency of the EU, according to the lawyer, has been a turning point in the unblocking of the relationship between the two sides of the Atlantic. Allamand referred in this regard to the recent EU-CELAC Summit (European Union-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), held in Brussels and which has been a diplomatic boost after years of divergences. "I was left with two sentences. The first is from [European Commission President] Ursula Von der Leyen, who said: 'Europe aspires to be Latin America and the Caribbean's partner of choice.' [Brazil's Luiz Inácio] President Lula said: 'With my long experience in international matters, I have never seen as much European interest in Latin America as I am seeing now,' Allamand said.
The EU-Mercosur trade pact, which according to the Ibero-American secretary general would generate flows "particularly positive for both parties", has nevertheless been negotiated for 20 years without success. "Frankly, I think it needs a political push," Allamand said. In his opinion, we must take advantage of an international order that is being reconfigured, taking advantage of the great areas of convergence that exist between Europe and Latin America: "There is no doubt that the two most like-minded, most compatible regions that one can find in the world, are precisely Europe and Latin America." The relationship can be a winner for both sides of the Atlantic: the Old Continent would expand its international influence and many Latin American economies would obtain an international projection that they do not have now, the lawyer has argued.
"Latin America needs financing, technology, investments and knowledge that Europe can contribute, but not to start a new extractivist stage," said the former Chilean minister. "It's not just about exporting natural wealth, but you have to add value" and boost the growth of a region that is advancing at a less intense pace than it would need.
In this regard, he acknowledged that Latin America also has pending tasks. The major issues to be fulfilled refer to political instability, which implies a deterioration in the governance of the continent, and the lack of confidence in institutions, which implies high costs when it comes to attracting investment. Finally, Allamand added that the economies of the region must improve their entrepreneurship and business environment, emphasizing legal certainty: "If there are no judicial, arbitral or any mechanism to resolve conflicts expeditiously, that becomes an obstacle for investments and business."
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