Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

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

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Looking Back at 2012: Latin America’s Economic Development

by Shannon K. O'Neil
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 »

China’s Economic Role in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Worker walks past by containers from China Shipping company at Brazil's main ocean port of Santos city Worker walks past by containers from China Shipping company at Brazil's main ocean port of Santos city (Nacho Doce/Courtesy Reuters).

There is much talk of China’s escalating economic influence in Latin America. But it’s worth looking at what has (and hasn’t) actually happened in the three main ways that China interacts with the region’s economies: trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and loans (from state-owned banks). Read more »

Latin America: Trading and Investing Together

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Container trucks stand in line as they are stopped on border between El Salvador and Honduras Container trucks stand in line as they are stopped on border between El Salvador and Honduras (Eliana Aponte/Courtesy Reuters).

Economic ties lead Latin America’s integration efforts. Promising some of the greatest concrete benefits—larger markets, improved livelihoods, and enhanced global economic power—leaders and communities alike have tried to integrate the region through three main means: trade, infrastructure, and investment. Read more »

Brazil’s Stability is Success

by Shannon K. O'Neil
To match feature BRAZIL-ECONOMY/MIDDLECLASS (Bruno Domingos/Courtesy Reuters). To match feature BRAZIL-ECONOMY/MIDDLECLASS (Bruno Domingos/Courtesy Reuters).

In the most recent July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, many people including Richard Lapper, Larry Rohter, Ronaldo Lemos, and myself respond to Ruchir Sharma’s May/June article “Bearish on Brazil,” which predicted that Brazil’s rise would end as soon as global commodity prices leveled out. In my piece, “Stability is Success,” I argue that while it is true that challenges remain for Brazil, its recent reforms and social programs have helped develop the economy and middle class in such a way that the country will no longer rise and fall solely on the basis of external market fluctuations. Read more »

Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America Hit Record Highs in 2011

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Employees work at the assembly line of Positivo Computers, Brazil's largest computer producer, in Curitiba (Cesar Ferrari/Courtesy Reuters). Employees work at the assembly line of Positivo Computers, Brazil's largest computer producer, in Curitiba (Cesar Ferrari/Courtesy Reuters).

Last year foreign direct investment (FDI) in Latin America continued its surge, topping $150 billion, an all time high for the region. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s report “Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the inflows climbed 31 percent—the most of any region and three times Asia’s growth rate—and now represent just over 10 percent of total global investment (breaking into the double digits for the first time as well). Read more »

China’s Chen Guangcheng

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Blind activist Chen Guangcheng smiles at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters). Blind activist Chen Guangcheng smiles at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters).

I had the good fortune this morning to see Chen Guangcheng speak here at the Council on Foreign Relations (and you can watch it here too). Over the course of the hour he answered questions ranging from the nature of his escape from his village of Dongshigu to legal rights in China to what the United States—either through government officials or private business interests—can and should do to help those like him. Through all his (on the record) answers emerged a presence, sense of humor, and thoughtfulness impressive for anyone, and in particular someone that has faced the challenges he has in recent years. Read more »

North American Competitiveness

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Truck of Mexican company Olympics crosses Puente Internacional Comercio Mundial while approaching border crossing into U.S., in Laredo (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). Truck of Mexican company Olympics crosses Puente Internacional Comercio Mundial while approaching border crossing into U.S., in Laredo (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday I attended a conference “Made in North America: Competitiveness, Supply Chain, and Transportation in the NAFTA Region,” which was part of World Trade Week’s events here in New York. From the interesting panels there emerged three main points, one positive and two less so. Read more »