A study developed by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Latinobarómetro Corporation revealed that more than 70 percent of Latin Americans are in favor of free trade.
The report, titled “The techno-integration of Latin America,” sought to reach a consensus on sustainable development. It investigated the process of economic and political integration, trade dynamics, new technologies, social equity and the environment, conducting more than 20,000 interviews in 18 countries around the region.
One of the most interesting findings of the research determined that 77 percent of Latin Americans are in favor of economic integration — the same percentage that is in favor of the free exchange of goods and services with countries in the region.
The study also found that 62 percent approve of political integration with other countries, and that the region is in fourth place (with 12 percent) behind the United States (34 percent), the European Union (16 percent) and China (16 percent), on the list of preferred areas for this type of development.
Despite this, “there is a strong contingent of unsatisfied demands for more economic integration, which reaches 7.3 percent of the population,” the report said. It also highlighted that 78 percent of respondents supported globalization and consider it an opportunity for economic growth.
Four out of five Latin Americans believe new technologies represent a threat to employment while only 24 percent see it as an opportunity to create more employment.
One of the biggest issues for the region is environmentalism, particularly climate change. Seventy-five percent of those interviewed said it was an “urgent problem.”
The data also said that 85 percent believe humans are responsible for climate change, and 71 percent said the issue must be dealt with even at the cost of economic growth.
Until last year, Latin America was seen as one of the least commercially integrated regions, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF); However, Mercosur, Alianza del Pacifico and the Bolivarian Alliance all aim to continue working toward improving that image.
Countries such as Chile, Mexico and Peru have reinforced their intention to take economic integration further through participation in groups like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
According to the director of the APEC policy support unit, Denis Hew, countries such as Chile and Peru will benefit in the coming years as “there is an increase in demand for raw materials and manufactured products, improving the economic performance of both economies.”