In a world where goods have long been the reigning kings of international trade, Latin America is staging a rebellion. While the volume of global trade in goods staged a reluctant retreat by 1.6 percent between 2022 and 2023, services, the unexpected rebels, defied the odds and grew by a whopping five percent. Hold on to your economic textbooks; the plot thickens.
Hugo Eduardo Beteta, the maestro orchestrating this symphony of shifting economic tides, revealed at the REDLAS Conference that the region is about to embark on a peculiar journey. Brace yourselves for a rollercoaster ride through the digital realms of finance, technology, healthcare, and education – the modern services, the Avengers of Latin America's economic revival.
Now, before you raise an eyebrow and wonder if we've slipped into an alternate economic universe, let Armando Sánchez Vargas, the Sherlock of economic investigations, illuminate the current scenario. Goods still swagger around, representing a whopping 87 percent of the region's total exports. But hold up, services have been silently plotting their coup, expanding “slowly but surely” and clawing their way to a respectable 13 percent.
During the conference, Sánchez Vargas pointed out that modern services have been the daredevils of world trade, performing acrobatics in finance, technology, health care, and education. These aren't just contributors to GDP; they're economic gymnasts, flexing their muscles in job creation and technological transformation. Mexico, for instance, has already succumbed to their charm, with services employing 43 percent of the population and contributing a staggering 58 percent to the GDP in the second quarter of 2023.
But, what's the catch? Why aren't goods shaking in their export crates? Well, it turns out, the traditional instruments for regulating and promoting goods – tariffs, non-tariff barriers, customs regimes – are losing their charm in the face of the enigmatic “dematerialization of trade.” The old tools need a makeover to tap into the potential of services. It's like trying to open a digital door with an analog key – not exactly cutting-edge.
Despite these challenges, the services' revolution soldiers on. It's not just about the usual suspects like tourism and transportation; even manufacturing is donning the “servicification” cape. And, wait for it, the cool kids of information technology are crashing the party, making this rebellion a lot more intriguing.
Now, imagine a conference where academia and policymakers gather to dissect this economic uprising. Enter REDLAS, the Avengers' secret base for plotting the revolution. The theme? Resilience of modern services, productive integration, and the modernization of traditional sectors. This isn't your average academic powwow; it's a battleground of ideas and solutions.
Sánchez Vargas drops some truth bombs: for effective policies, you need the brains – academia and the productive sector. When these forces unite, magic happens. This conference isn't just a think tank; it's the cauldron where policies for Latin America's sustainable progress are brewed.
But who's the mysterious benefactor behind this economic transformation? None other than the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), the unsung hero of this tale. Winfried Weck, the director of the Regional Program, waltzes into the narrative, emphasizing the impact of the conference on students, professors, researchers, and policymakers. It's a meeting of minds that could shape the future – an economic Hogwarts if you will.
As we navigate the uncharted waters of the services' revolution, one thing is clear: Latin America is scripting its saga, where services aren't just providers of GDP steroids but the architects of sustainable development. Buckle up; the revolution is underway, and it's trading goods for great ideas.