Geopolitics and trade: Future relations between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean

Publication date:
Antoni Estevadeordal, European Representative, Inter-American Development Bank

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the global economy and posed a number of enormous challenges to developing regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The health crisis came at a time when the multilateral system of economic governance was weakened by the geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China and rising protectionism since the 2008–9 global financial crisis. In this context, relations with the European Union (EU) emerge as a strategic option to help the region overcome the pandemic’s effects and establish the conditions for a sustainable and inclusive recovery. As this chapter relates, despite China’s growing influence and traditional US dominance, the EU remains a major economic partner for Latin America and the Caribbean. These economic ties are supported by a formal integration architecture that has made great advances in recent years, helping to strengthen rules-based trade. The present context gives an opportunity to deepen this relationship, drawing on the EU’s global leadership on issues such as climate change, the digital transformation and social inclusion. In this sense, EU–LAC relations are well placed to promote the transformations the region needs more than ever.