Nuestros artículos: A Latin American agenda for the G-20





The Group of Twenty brings together key industrialized and emerging economies (G20) that represent two-thirds of the world´s population, 80% of global trade, and 85% of global gross domestic product (GDP). Since the G20’s creation, it has had a constantly evolving agenda, with variations that follow a pace largely set by the great powers. This year’s G20 summit of heads of state and government, to be held in Hamburg, will not be very different.

In particular, by not being able to define a common regional agenda, the Latin American bloc (Mexico, Brazil and Argentina) has struggled to incorporate Latin American priorities into the global agenda and has thus faced an additional historical disadvantage in G20 debates. This year’s G20 process, and the upcoming Argentinian G20 presidency in 2018, make for great opportunities in overcoming Latin America’s legacy of being overlooked in setting the global governance agenda.

In Hamburg, recurring issues from the last decade will yet again be on the table: how to get the global economy out of the lethargy that has set in since the 2008 crisis, and how to do it while maintaining sound regulatory control over financial markets.

Now, a decade on from the beginning of the crisis, there has been an unexpected and disturbing further complication for the G20: the aggressive isolationist and protectionist threat posed by Donald Trump, President of the world’s largest economy.

Latin America’s growing voice in the G20
The first country to feel the political, economic, and diplomatic impact of Trump’s ascendancy was one of the G20’s three Latin American members – Mexico. Trump’s militaristic approach to the deportation of Mexican immigrants is only a sign of how much worse US-Mexican relations can be. However, where there is a crisis, there is also hope for opportunity: in this case, the rediscovery of a more Latin American future for Mexico.

One of the motives behind the G20’s establishment in 1999, was an acknowledgement by Group of Seven (G7) economies that ‘periphery’ or major emerging economies could no longer be treated as ‘by-standers’ in understanding or responding to failures in the global economic system. As currency and financial crises in Asia and Latin America showed, the so-called ‘periphery’ could also foster and spread some of the worst symptoms of unchecked or unregulated capitalism, and negatively affect the rest of the world without distinction. In other words, although globalization had already been underway for some time, there was a growing appreciation in the capitals of major powers that problems connected to unregulated business and rapidly mobile capital shifting were global. As such, the first G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Berlin in 1999 was born from an initiative led by the Group of the Seven to expand the number of seats at the lead ‘table’ of global governance (the G7 was known as the G8 during the period of Russia’s involvement up until its eviction due to disagreements about its role in the Ukraine conflict).

Latin America was represented at the first G20 meeting by its three major emerging economies, who remain members today. Mexico, Brazil and Argentina experienced some of the worst economic crises of the 1990s, some of them interrelated, so their participation in the G20 process was seen as valuable by fellow members, as the involvement of the Latin American bloc added legitimacy to solutions that might otherwise have been solely proposed by economies from the North.

However, the nature of these same crises made it difficult for countries to coordinate what were mostly nationally specific policy responses, in turn impeding the development of a broader and more unified regional vision. While Mexico focused on solving the problems stemming from its status as a US neighbor and partner in NAFTA, Argentina and Brazil advanced to a level of unprecedented coordination within MERCOSUR, while Latin America’s Pacific Ocean facing countries worked within their own regional governance arrangements.

Shared goals for the G20’s Latin American bloc
Since the outbreak of the 2008 global financial crisis, Brazil and Argentina have raised their voice in the G20 forum in favor of enhancing basic financial regulations. They have also lent their support to public policies of inclusion in the face of the virulent inequality that appears to be on the rise in many countries, even within the great powers, and have emphasized the need for the North to understand that trade under fair rules is a solution to inequality, not a threat. Employment policies and the commercialization of raw materials are also commonly shared elements within the emerging stages of the new Latin American agenda, although this is still in its early days.

Latin America must finally overcome the lack of a well-articulated and coherent position that it usually drags on to the G20 stage. The “Trump threat” may spark an opportunity for making such an outcome possible, insofar as it might allow Mexico to recalibrate its stance on trade, financial and political issues. Argentina and Brazil in turn must prepare to expand and enrich their regional strategy within the G20.

There is a clear opportunity in front of us: after Germany, the G20 – under the Argentinian presidency – will be hosted in Latin America. That event should find our countries ready to clearly represent our regional needs and expectations as a whole within the G20 agenda.

The care of natural resources and the fair commercialization of raw materials; the promotion of human resources and quality employment; investment in housing, education and health, and unrestricted respect for the right to migrate, these policy goals and others can be the base elements of a shared agenda. However, to attain such an outcome, Latin American G20 leaders must first be able to recognize each other, sit at a table and seriously agree on how, when and where to push in the G20. Otherwise, the global engine and its steering committee will remain in other non-Latin-American hands, and we will continue to take our place as a tailgate on the train of contemporary global history.

El Grupo de los 20 principales países industrializados y emergentes(G20) expresa dos tercios de la población mundial, el 80% del comercio global y el 85% del producto bruto planetario. Desde sus inicios, se ha dado una agenda cambiante con variaciones que siguieron el ritmo impuesto por las grandes potencias. Este año no será muy distinto en la Cumbre de Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno, convocada en Hamburgo, Alemania, para el mes de julio.

Sin embargo, el bloque latinoamericano (México, Brasil y Argentina) tiene ante sí una gran oportunidad para superar la histórica desventaja adicional que exhibió hasta ahora en los debates del G20 al no haber logrado definir una agenda regional común para incorporar sus prioridades a la agenda global.

En Hamburgo, volverán a estar sobre la mesa los asuntos recurrentes de la última década: cómo sacar a la economía global del letargo en el que entró desde 2008 y cómo hacerlo manteniendo a los mercados financieros bajo control.

Una década después de iniciada la crisis se suma una novedad inesperada e inquietante: la agresiva amenaza aislacionista y proteccionista planteada desde la principal economía planetaria, bajo la presidencia de Donald Trump.

El primer país en sentir el impacto político, económico y diplomático de tal giro ha sido uno de los tres latinoamericanos del G20, México. La militarización de las deportaciones de inmigrantes mexicanos sólo es una muestra de cuánto pueden empeorar las cosas. Pero allí donde hay una crisis, también espera una oportunidad: en este caso, el redescubrimiento de un destino mas latinoamericano para México.

En 1999 nace el primer G20 como una ampliación de hecho del Grupo de los 7 (G7, luego G8 sumando a Rusia). La globalización ya estaba en marcha hacía rato, pero el Centro tomaba nota de que la Periferia no sólo podía resultar el escenario lejano de las fallas del sistema sino que podía, también, extender los peores síntomas y afectar al resto sin distinción ni piedad. Los problemas, como los negocios sin regular y las ganancias rápidas, eran globales.

América latina fue convocada a través de sus tres principales economías emergentes de entonces y todavía hoy. México, Brasil y Argentina atravesaron ellos mismos algunas de las peores crisis, a veces conectadas, por lo cual incorporar sus experiencias resultó para el G20 tan valioso como encolumnar a estos países detrás de las soluciones propuestas por el Norte. Esas mismas crisis dificultaron la coordinación de las agendas particulares impidiendo una más amplia visión regional. Mientras México se concentró en resolver los problemas que derivaban de su condición de vecino y socio de Estados Unidos en el NAFTA, Argentina y Brasil avanzaron en una coordinación inédita en el marco del MERCOSUR pero, a su vez, lejos de los problemas del área del Pacífico y con una agenda subregional que dio frutos parciales en el G20.

A partir del estallido de la crisis financiera, Brasil y Argentina alzaron su voz en el foro en favor de regulaciones financieras básicas, de políticas públicas de inclusión frente a la virulenta desigualdad que se dibujaba en muchos países, incluso en las grandes potencias, y la necesidad de que el Norte comprendiera que el comercio bajo reglas justas era una solución, y no una amenaza. El empleo y la comercialización de materias primas formaron parte de un primer núcleo de agenda latinoamericana, aunque todavía incipiente.

América Latina debe superar de una vez la desarticulación que arrastra en el escenario del G20. La “amenaza Trump” puede disparar una oportunidad permitiendo a México recalibrar sus cuestiones comerciales, financieras y políticas. Argentina y Brasil deberán, a su vez, prepararse para ampliar y enriquecer su estrategia regional dentro del G20.

El cuidado de los recursos naturales y la justa comercialización de las materias primas; la promoción de recursos humanos y empleo de calidad; la inversión en vivienda, educación y salud, el respeto irrestricto del derecho a migrar. Esos y otros pueden ser los elementos de una agenda compartida. Pero para ello primero deberán reconocerse entre sí, sentarse a una mesa y ponerse de acuerdo seriamente sobre cómo, cuándo y dónde empujar en el G20. De lo contrario, el motor y la dirección seguirán en otras manos, y seguiremos como furgón de cola del tren de la historia global contemporánea.

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