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Conceptual Test-bed for South America as a region

Discuss about the Social Conflict And Economic Development.

A region is defined by way of its inherent economic structure, culture, politics, social dynamics and military and security. Region is a concept that is used every day for referring to a discursive tool for governance units having certain statehood properties. A region encompasses broad geographical, human and environmental characteristics[1]. The scope of this analysis pertains to South America, a sub-continent of America with mostly Spanish and Portuguese speaking population. First part of the analysis evaluates features of the continent that provides a conceptual test-bed for checking in case South America reflects properties of a region. Secondly, a projection for the coming 5 and 10 years by focusing on economics, politics and military and security has been provided. 

Region is a language used often wherein a comparative framework present theories for regions in a systematic manner. The framework is utilized for outlining of a general theory comprising of regions at supra-national, cross-border or sub-national levels. Statehood theory of regions provides statehood properties that establishes relation between regions and states. Regions are confused with power domains where security analysis, an applied form of IR theory is used regarding macro-system structural constraints that shapes behaviour. There is a variation in globalist and neorealist attributes regarding concepts of global and regional structures. A test-bed for defining and resolving conflict between regionalism and neorealism is that regionalisms contention has decreased since Cold War. There are propositions regarding South America being a region, regional powers are defined with their polarity. A clear distinction of South American regional  level dynamics can clearly be distinguished with those of global levels. Existing security politics in the region further aids in formation of security communities with certain minor powers with penetration of global powers. The Southern Cone in South America has a security community based on securitizing on economic threat for regional pacification. The country’s engagement with Us can be regarded as a global intervention which classifies for it being a region.


Region earlier used to be defined encompassing geographical properties which overlooked extra-geographical elements. Regions sometimes reflect understanding of politics, economics, military and security features of a region. Regional Security Complex Theory (RSCT) has allowed analysing of international security and defense aspect by regional-level analysis. This analysis concerns South American Regional Security Complex (RSC) on RSCT for understanding polarity in the region. There are 12 countries in South America with most of its population living in eastern or western coasts. The south and interiors of the continent is sparsely populated with their ethnicity being indigenous people with interaction with Europe rulers, African slaves and other immigrants[2]. Economy within South America consists of 410 million comprising of 6% of world’s population. Brazil acts as a protagonist in the area with institutions with security constellation. Brazil has a central role in forming two South American sub complexes, namely North Andean and Southern Cone. In this RSC there is prevalence of unipolar power which is not global level power due to Brazil. Union of South American Nations’ (UNASUR) structure has a central role of Brazil in it.

Projections for 5 and 10 years

Figure 1: South America Economy

Source: https://www.young-diplomats.com/mercosur-challenges-simple-analysis/

UNASUR has a special role in Defense Council, therefore it can be said that as region is expected to deliver a consensus role in reflecting characteristics of a region. According to theory of RSC, there are four possible types of powers as bipolar, unipolar, tripolar or multipolar. Such RSC classifies South America as Standard with sub-complex type structures[3]. After the Cold War, centered power in the region started facing security threats. There was geopolitical challenges from bi or trilateral parties, domestic instability, US involvement and regional dis-balances in Brazil and Argentina. With various insecurities in the region, there was a sway from radical military political control with regional integration processes. Brazil acts as a unipolar presenter in the region, with the region presenting features of varied political, economic and military developments[4].

Figure 2: Gross Debt of South America

Source: https://www.financialsense.com/contributors/stratfor/how-economic-downturn-affects-latin-america

Major regions in South America reflects security threats, military threats, economic threats and political dilemmas. Debt crisis in the region and emergence of unipolar Brazil has created a lot of challenges for the economy.

Figure 3: Economic Freedom Trends

Source: https://www.heritage.org/americas/report/holding-the-kirchners-accountable-argentinas-economic-freefall

Latin America’s economy has been contracting by 0.3 % as per International Monetary Fund Economic Outlook. Several reasons attributed to its economy are strengthening of US dollar, collapsing of commodity prices, weakening of domestic demand are some of the key factors. Governments in a number of countries have depicted sharp drop in budget revenues with rise in rate of social instability. Commodity drive decline have had immense impact on the economy, which is capable to recover from the same but not without political consequences. With varied levels of economic integration of United States and China, countries had been bound to accommodate flexible monetary and fiscal policy. Commodity boom in many countries of the continent can mostly be attributed to China especially in the year 2000 but it has declined steadily from 2013. Governments of many countries has successfully established control over a number of commodities as cooper, crude oil, iron ore, nickel which has contributed significantly towards economic growth in the region. Downturns in 1980s coupled with debt crisis have led to cyclical ups and downs. Trends in unemployment has however remains constantly high in the period. Argentina had always been exposed to lesser amounts of external debts with large international reserves, which has led to stronger monetary policy and better private capital markets in the country. Most of the regions in South America are facing declining economic trends except a few countries, who are minutely having positive economic figures. 

Analysing trends in the past, it can be predicted that South American region will continue depicting multiple trends that contradicts regional predictors[5]. Entire regions in South America had been undergoing steady recovery in economic crisis since a prolonged period. Economic growth as indicated by GDP more prominently has been seen to expand depicting signs of recovery. However, growth rates are very low as 1.7% in first quarter to 1.1% in next quarter. Such growing trends have impacted rising trends in commodity prices with healthy regional performances. The economy has been able to successfully leave recession in the past. Drawing a closer look at individual country’s data it can be seen that major growth in the area has been attributed to growth led by Brazil. Brazil with its unipolar characteristics have continued depicting strong household led consumption patterns with increase in investments in various sectors. Several countries have had record-low inflation rates with lower levels of interests rates as well and an increase in overall economic activity in last quarters. Apart from Brazil, Chile has been having higher export revenues and resilient labor market trends. Colombia has depicted expansion in external sectors growth with Brazil’s economy decelerating[6]. Brazil had been facing challenges pertaining to economic downturns, high inflation with lower levels in household spending rates. Such trends are expected to continue for the future as well with Brazil leading the platform[7]. Economy of Brazil is expected to overcome its hurdles and extend its growth patterns in later part of its 5 years trend. Argentina have been having accelerated economic activities also with Venezuela’s economy recovering inspite of higher oil prices. Production of oil has reduced from lack of management of resources and investment. Its economy continues to remained weakened with limited signs of recovery. Pace of recovery in the entire economy continues to remain gradual in the future. Economic slack continues to remain within the economy with continued persistent high prices. Future outlook for the economy holds that macroeconomic factors has to recover for greater benefits to happen in the economy. President Michel Temer has become greatly unpopular as majority have started distancing themselves. Policy making complications have fractured congress with increase in protestors and contenders. There is a rise in parliaments  presidential vote with various contenders. Such strong mandates in the region’s outlook will continue for betterment of the region’s outlook. Though, macroeconomic reforms are expected across the economy but they will not emerge till a 10 year period. Within next 5 years no significant outcomes is expected, such changes will appear in the next 10 year period. As seen from the past history some countries will continue to bear negative impacts as Brazil and Venezuela whereas Paraguay, Bolivia and other countries will be much better off. The entire region is vulnerable to price swings as oil revenues contributes to almost 45% of their budget revenues. Oil export has contributed majorly towards export earnings in the country, with prospects of Venezuela and Brazil being bleak considered by many. Political scandals in multiple countries has also caused significant turmoil within the country that has affected political and economic outlook.

Figure 4: Latin America's growth forecast

Source: https://www.focus-economics.com/regions/latin-america

Major economic reforms with positive region’s outlook will emerge over the next 10 year period. fiscal agreements with notable reforms will help in macroeconomic imbalances. There has been a new wave of political factors that has been affecting the country. Political risk analysis shows risks in Cartes’ Reforms. Current political crisis within the region is expected to spread across other regions in neighboring countries. Poor governance structure within the country is expected to persists for a prolonged time period with weak laws and reforms. Military and security factors will emerge to balance off once major amendments with prices stabilize over a period of time. Inflation and prices are the major factors that are disrupting the economic at a point in time, later such factors are expected to stabilize with political reforms in place. High levels of corruptions and absence of economic reforms has led to significant challenges emergent in the area. With security being a major threat in the region there is bound to be strong uprising which will further help the entire region overcome its challenges.

Conclusion

Analysing trends of South America it can be said that it is versatile in nature. Each region depicts separate form of growth and development. A number of nations in the country are losing out on their economic freedom, which has resulted in political instability in the area. With such increasing trends, it is obvious that other countries in the region will suffer from certain pressures as well. Though each country exhibit their own trends pertaining to economic and political development, they have shown and will continue to depict trends of losing out on their economic freedom. The region experiences volatility and challenges in terms of political, economic, military and security factors. There will be severe changes and reforms desirable that will allow the entire region stabilize and establish on their path of economic growth.

Reference

 Bebbington, Anthony, ed. Social conflict, economic development and the extractive industry: evidence from South America. Vol. 9. Routledge, 2011.

Genovese, Eugene D. The political economy of slavery: Studies in the economy and society of the slave South. Wesleyan University Press, 2014.

Gwynne, Robert N., and K. A. Y. Cristobal. Latin America transformed: globalization and modernity. Routledge, 2014.

McCusker, John J., and Russell R. Menard. The Economy of British America, 1607-1789. UNC Press Books, 2014.

Riggirozzi, Pía, and Diana Tussie. "The rise of post-hegemonic regionalism in Latin America." In The Rise of Post-Hegemonic Regionalism, pp. 1-16. Springer Netherlands, 2012.

Taussig, Michael T. The devil and commodity fetishism in South America. Univ of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Tindall, George Brown, and David E. Shi. America: A narrative history. WW Norton & Company, 2016.

[1] Robert N. Gwynne and K. A. Y. Cristobal, Latin America transformed: globalization and modernity.

[2] Michael T. Taussig, The devil and commodity fetishism in South America.

[3] Anthony Bebbington, ed, Social conflict, economic development and the extractive industry: evidence from South America.

[4] George Brown Tindall and David E. Shi. America: A narrative history

[5] Eugene D. Genovese, The political economy of slavery: Studies in the economy and society of the slave South.

[6] John J.McCusker and Russell R. Menard. The Economy of British America

[7] George Brown Tindall and David E. Shi. America: A narrative history.

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