Does Asia Matter? The Political Economy of Latin America’s International Relations

Barbara Stallings

in The Oxford Handbook of Latin American Political Economy

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747504
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Does Asia Matter? The Political Economy of Latin America’s International Relations

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  • Economics
  • International Economics
  • Public Economics



This article studies the political economy of East Asia in Latin America. It examines what some consider the current Chinese threat in light of the Japanese experience in Latin America two decades earlier. It argues that China, like Japan, has economic interests in the region, but that both have limited their activities for two main reasons. First, their bilateral relationships with the United States are far more important to them than their links with Latin America. Second, Latin America is a less significant partner than other developing regions. As a consequence, for better or worse, the United States remains the dominant power in the region even if the main U.S. actors—both the government and the private sector—have neglected their southern neighbors in recent times. The article is organized as follows. The first section analyzes Japanese political-economic relations with Latin America, focusing on the 1970s and 1980s. The second section turns to China's more recent experience in comparison with that of Japan. The third section identifies winners and losers from the East Asian countries' activities in the region.

Keywords: East Asia; Latin America; political economy; China; Japan; United States

Article.  10384 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; International Economics ; Public Economics

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