The 15th BRICS Summit took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from August 22 to 24 of 2023. It happened when there is a perceived relative decline of the United States and its Atlantic allies in the face of the rise of a new hegemon in Asia: China. This international conjuncture, where we see great powers' rise and fall, has profound geopolitical implications characterised below.
With the recent formalisation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has the opportunity to access the world's largest economic bloc. It is an opportunity and an alternative for LAC blocs to coordinate and use this new market as a catapult for recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
However, in the two centuries of LAC's history, repeated efforts at economic integration and multilateral cooperation have failed to materialise into a project. Integration has been truncated by a combination of internal factors such as the conflict between the primary-export and industrial sectors and the principle of due obedience that obliges Pan-Americanism.
Ecuador is the most recent example of US interference in the internal politics of the region's countries.
The international natural gas market has seen changes in the last quarter of 2020: an increase in supply by the French company TOTAL in Mozambique; a slight recovery in the international price; and changes in South American contracts for export destinations.
In Latin America, the main supplier of gas in its gaseous form is Bolivia, and the two major suppliers in its liquefied form are Trinidad and Tobago. Bolivia has had contracts with Argentina and Brazil since the 1970s. With Argentina it was revised in 2021. Trinidad and Tobago has an outward-oriented oil industry and exports to the US, Spain, the Dominican Republic and China. Peru is making efforts to stop exporting to Mexico.
Latin American countries will continue with natural gas production because of its importance in electricity generation, international trade and tax revenues.
The outbreak of COVID-19 began in China in late December 2019, with quarantine and confinement beginning in January. The health regulations stopped many global value chains, mainly those of pharmaceuticals, automobiles, aeronautics, electronics and telecommunications.
Faced with the problem, the Chinese government immediately implemented policies to prevent the economy from collapsing. What happened to the economy during the pandemic? Has it recovered?
Economic policy actions have mitigated the downturn and boosted the recovery of the Chinese economy. This makes it the only country in the world with a reliable "V" shape recovery, with real quarterly growth annualized in 2020.
A large number of businesses have stopped because of the VOC-19 pandemic and the current economic outlook is negative for the global economy. As a result of China's closure of production and suspension of deliveries to global value chains and as intermediate inputs, many more countries have stopped much of their production.
International trade is suffering on both the export and import sides. Given the prospect of loss of real demand for inputs, the reaction on the stock market has not been one of over-pricing of commodities.
The trend in the prices of the main commodities has been downward since 201. Lower commodity prices have a direct impact on primary export economies, such as most Latin American economies.