The global trading system is undergoing fundamental changes. While World Trade Organization members continue to work towards an agreement tailored to the exigencies of 21st century commerce, countries are focusing their attention on new regional trade and investment initiatives. In particular, some mega-regional trade agreements currently under negotiation have the potential to reshape the global trade landscape in years to come. As this new architecture emerges, the Western Hemisphere finds itself without a coherent vision to promote integration. Many observers believe that political differences within the region stand in the way of region-wide initiatives. However, the emergence of new drivers of trade integration beyond tariffs and other traditional market access issues—in particular, in the area of trade facilitation measures—present opportunities for a renewed strategic vision to promote integration in the Americas. The moment is therefore right for a dialogue on the future of trade in the Americas to address key challenges and discuss policy frameworks that could strengthen the region’s economic connectivity in a pragmatic yet powerful way.
On April 12, the Brookings Global-CERES Economic and Social Policy in Latin America Initiative (ESPLA) and the Integration and Trade Sector at the Inter-American Development Bank hosted a panel discussion on the future of trade in the Americas.