Latin America – Asia Pacific Observatory: tool for bringing the two regions closer
Trade relations between Latin America and Asia Pacific have increased notably in the past few years, as a result of both the notorious transformations of some Asian economies, and the specific dynamics of Latin America.
So far, the exchange between the two regions occurs in relation to three main channels: trade, investments, and trade agreements. This, apart from the existing cooperation and the financing, which has gained significance more recently.
The two actors share a dynamic and complex agenda that calls for the correct dimensioning of the professionalism required for promoting the communication and negotiations between the regions. The variety of negotiations that exist imply differential strategies for achieving a successful outcome of the initiatives prompted by the parties involved.
It is a fact that Latin America is not fully capable to undertake the new challenges imposed by the speed of changes implemented in some Asian economies that also have defined diplomatic strategies in relation to the region, with a clear distinction between sub-regions and countries.
Despite the current changes in such reality, advances in that direction will only be possible by providing decision-makers with all the information necessary to enhance diagnosis skills and to favor the determination of the best insertion strategies. Such efforts also lead to a proper dimensioning, by the Asia Pacific countries, of the magnitude of changes in Latin America, as well as the differences between sub-regions and the specific aspects of integration processes. In the end, all this will enable a more successful development of economic and trade exchange.
Amidst the framework described, the region’s institutes determined the need for a specialized environment for analyzing the relations between Latin America and Asia Pacific. Specifically, the initiative originated in a debate within the LAIA, relative to the need for issues deemed global and strategic with an effect on the region to be included in the agenda. One of such issues is the new configuration of the economic and political scenario, and more specifically the effects of the economic relations between the region and Asian Pacific on aspects relative to trade, investments and production.
It was finally in 2011 that the Representatives Committee of the LAIA approved, by means of Resolution Nr. 393, the creation of the Observatory. This initiative included the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and was formally documented in 2012, upon the subscription of a tripartite agreement that enabled the commencement of operations by the Observatory.
3.Objectives and actions materialized
The purpose of the Observatory is to strengthen knowledge about the economic relations between the two regions, in addition to providing a permanent mechanism for making available, to the various actors in the regions, all the information necessary for the adoption of policies and strategies. The entity covers a total of thirty-seven economies, nineteen from Latin America, and eighteen from Asia Pacific.
The Observatory comprises a virtual space with important information concerning the economic and trade relations between the two regions, as well as an environment for developing activities such as forums and seminars, among others. These activities are aimed at achieving further knowledge and consideration of those strategic relations, in combination with the countries involved, as well as with international and regional organizations, and other integration mechanisms contributing to the project. The target public of the Observatory is the public sector, apart from diplomats, academicians, entrepreneurs and students.
Since the time of its creation, the Observatory has fulfilled the following specific objectives:
➢ Creating a debate forum for the analysis of strategic issues concerning the economic relations existing between the two regions.
➢ Preparing and disseminating studies with bases for the design and application of policies oriented at strengthening relations between the two regions.
➢ Defining tools for clearly systematizing, in a simple manner, data relative to the trade of goods, investments, agreements and negotiations, among other aspects.
In order to fulfill the objectives mentioned, a website was designed to provide users with useful information such as up-to-date news, basic data on members, query tools regarding trade agreements, negotiations, business opportunities, trade fairs, bibliography bases of academic studies, and business reports, among others.
Seminars are also organized on a regular basis, as well as the release of books relative to the relations between Latin America and Asia Pacific. Some of the seminars dealt with the economic and trade relations between Latin America and the ASEAN, Japan, India, the implications for Latin America of the TPP, and books presented covered the relations with China and other Asian economies. Every two years, there is also an Academic Seminar with the participation of experts from the two regions who are invited to submit articles to be published by the Observatory.
In addition to the special publications referred to the results of the Academic Seminar, there are regular publications of special reports, studies and bulletins dealing with different topics relative to the economic and trade relations of Asia Pacific and Latin America. All these may be accessed at the entity’s Web Portal.
The Observatory includes an Academic Forum with over one hundred experts from the two regions, which provides the context for specific activities that enable interactions between academicians and entities. This space allows for experts to publish their studies and inform, through the Observatory, about activities regarding relations between the two actors, while collectivizing all the efforts made towards a stronger bond between Latin America and Asia Pacific.
The institution’s objectives also include an institutional representation which implies regular attendance to seminars and events, relating to the referred topics, that take place in both Latin America and Asia Pacific, as well as the subscription of cooperation agreements with other specialized Think Tanks.
4.Actions to come
In coming years, the Observatory will continue organizing seminars on the relations between Latin America and Asia Pacific, and introducing new issues on the agenda, along with new actors. Additionally, stronger efforts will be made regarding the publication of studies and documents referred to these issues, and in relation to the information made available on the Web Portal, as well as concerning the activities organized within the framework of the Academic Forum.
For 2015, a Business Forum has been planned, with the idea of identifying the needs of entrepreneurs in accessing markets and improving the business environment. This is expected to provide decision makers with the practical data required to approve public policies.
Following more than three years of activities that allowed the fulfillment of most of the specific objectives set forth in the tripartite agreement between the LAIA, CAF and the ECLAC, the organization is currently implementing an agenda focused on some new actions which include the promotion of strategic associations with other Asian and Latin American institutes, specialized in studying relations between the two regions.
Such was the scenario of a recent visit to Tokyo (Japan) by the Coordinator, who, in his representative role, offered a conference at the Japan Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, which has recently created the Japanese Institute of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. There are plans for joint activities with this institute, aimed at both promotion and research, to provide various visions on the events usually considered by the Latin America – Asia Pacific Observatory.
Every effort made by the entities to make available, to the target public, information necessary to attain a better knowledge about every region’s dynamics, as well as the particular features of the sub-regions and countries involved, will be favoring the development of more sustainable and balanced relations. And this is of global significance, for the two regions are at the lead of the world’s economic growth.