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International Trade Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean 2018

Stronger Regional Integration Urgent to Counter Impact of Trade Conflicts

image of International Trade Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean 2018

This edition of International Trade Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean covers 2018 and is divided into three chapters. Chapter I analyses the impact of divergent global growth and trade tensions on trade in the region. Chapter II examines the share of Latin America and the Caribbean in global trade in minerals and metals. The region overall is a net exporter in this sector; however, given the typically low level of processing of its exports, it has the largest share in this category of primary products of all regions in the world. Finally, Chapter III examines whether cross-border e-commerce has the potential to galvanize and diversify exports from the region. Cross-border e-commerce refers to transactions for products and services that are ordered online, platform-enabled, or delivered online.

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Cross-border e-commerce as a new driver of exports

The rapid growth of cross-border electronic commerce (e-commerce) has the potential to change traditional trade patterns in Latin America and the Caribbean, where, merchandise exports are concentrated in a small number of generally large firms that trade with just two or three markets. Moreover, the survival rate of exporting firms in the region is low: most of them —especially in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)— do not last longer than one year (Urmeneta, Park and Mulder, 2018). The rapid spread of the Internet and other digital platforms is drastically reducing international transaction costs, including those of communication, coordination and transport, while the trade enabled by these platforms brings buyers and sellers closer together and makes previously unattainable foreign markets accessible.

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