How does Latin America compare to Europe and East Asia in terms of regional integration?
The collapse of support for hemispheric free trade leaves the region without a shared integration strategy. Yet we know that regional integration, especially its benefits for domestic and foreign investment, has helped turbo-charge growth and income convergence in emerging Europe and East Asia. More than ten countries have joined the European Union in this decade and reaped striking benefits. Emerging East Asia is now knit together in cross-border production-sharing chains, facilitated by governments and regional organizations. Europe has pursued a top-down, formal process, while East Asia has pursued a bottom-up process led by the private sector. The challenge for the Americas is to find a third way — one that relies less on supranational bureaucracies, uniformity, and aid than does the European Union but takes a more systematic approach to reform than did East Asia. Q: How would a regional investment agreement work? A: The idea is a collective effort to set standards for improving t