Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

Looking Back at 2012: Latin America’s Economic Development

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, December 21, 2012
Brazilian worker assembles a Volkswagen car at Sao Bernardo do Campo Volkswagen plant, near Sao Paulo (Nacho Doce/Courtesy Reuters). Brazilian worker assembles a Volkswagen car at Sao Bernardo do Campo Volkswagen plant, near Sao Paulo (Nacho Doce/Courtesy Reuters).

Looking back at the past year, many of the posts on Latin America’s Moment touch on the region’s economic development, and its trade and investment ties with the rest of the world. Here is a recap of some of the main themes.

Overall, 2012 was a year of economic optimism for most Latin American economies. The IMF’s Latin America Economic Outlook report, which I write about here, was quite bullish. And ECLAC announced that Latin America hit an all-time $150 billion high in foreign direct investment, led by Brazil. Also crucial in the region’s economic development were the growing number of women in the workforce. Read more »

Latin America in the Global Economy

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, December 17, 2012

A few weeks ago, the Council on Foreign Relations hosted a discussion with Antoine van Agtmael and Claudio Loser (and moderated by Theodore Moran) on Latin America and the global economy. The two panelists focused their remarks on the many recent successes and growing opportunities in the region: its abundant energy resources, the rise (and importance) of the middle class, and Latin America’s overall growth and stability. But they also brought up the remaining challenges that weigh on future growth: infrastructure, education, and the many economic monopolies. Although disagreements arose throughout the conversation (particularly in comparisons with Asia), the general consensus was one of cautious optimism for the region’s future and the message that Latin America’s economic future matters for its own countries, for the United States, and for the overall global economy. Read more »

Refocusing U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, December 10, 2012
U.S. President Obama meets with Mexico's President-elect Nieto in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Obama meets with Mexico's President-elect Nieto in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

As new administrations in Mexico and the United States start working together next year, I wrote a Policy Innovation Memorandum for CFR on how best to refocus the security relationship. In short:

U.S.-Mexico security cooperation, led by the Merida Initiative, is vital and must continue. But with Enrique Peña Nieto’s inauguration, Mexico’s political landscape is now changing, and the United States must adjust its strategy and support accordingly. Building on the lessons of the past five years, the United States should work with Mexico to implement the nonmilitary programs envisioned in the current Merida framework, in particular supporting and prioritizing Mexico’s ongoing judicial reform, training police officers at the state and local levels, modernizing the U.S.-Mexico border, and investing in local community and youth-oriented programs. Read more »

What Should the Top Priority be for U.S.-Mexico Relations?

by Shannon K. O'Neil Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Mexico's new President Enrique Pena Nieto waves after taking oath in congress in Mexico City (Stringer/Courtesy of Reuters). Mexico's new President Enrique Pena Nieto waves after taking oath in congress in Mexico City (Stringer/Courtesy of Reuters).

To commemorate Enrique Peña Nieto’s inauguration, the Americas Society/Council of the Americas asked many avid Mexico watchers what should be the top priority for U.S.-Mexico relations going forward. Here was my response:

Mexico and the United States should focus on deepening economic ties. Commercial interdependence is already substantial, with nearly a half trillion dollars’ worth of goods crossing the border each year. Some 80 percent of Mexico’s exports go north, and for nearly half of U.S. states, Mexico is the number one or two destination for exports— supporting an estimated 6 million American jobs today. Read more »