June 2018c

16 17 amending rules and guidelines, which would ultimately help member states learn how to sur- vive in a more competitive, multilateral environ- ment. The general theme of the study strongly em- phasizes that if there is no political consensus within and across member countries on what economic policies to follow, the results are also bound to be disappointing and not materialize at all. Key issues to focus on when strategizing towards the goal of a LAC-FTA, while simulta- neously breaking the political bottlenecks and blockages between competing countries, is with regard to defining with the agreements a ten- et of long-term security and macro-economic stability. This, the study claims, can increase the trade capacity of countries, if they see a direct nation- al security advantage for engaging in an LAC- FTA, particularly as it may make trade negotia- tions with other multi-lateral and extra-regional countries, like China, Russia and India. In addi- tion, it can also increase the overall bargaining power of individual member countries in inter- national negotiations substantially, most impor- tantly with regard to the signing of other, critical trade agreements that can be more beneficial to individual members and the LAC bloc as a whole. The caveat from this study is that, while PTAs at the current levels are weak and ineffective, at best, other sub-regional agreements between individual countries on a case by case, good by good, service by service and institution by insti- tution framework were powerful tools for pro- moting regional integration. It is estimated that these sub-regional agree- ments boosted intra-regional trade by 64 per- cent, on average, despite a mixed record of implementation and enforcement of uniform standards. Another caveat is that results overall with regional PTAs was that they were very ineffec- tive in fulfilling their main economic motivation, which was to boost competitiveness abroad – extra-regionally with individual EU, North Amer- ican and Asian countries and the wider, multilat- eral sphere like the WTO. To combat all of this, the study concludes that the LAC region should move away from the frag- mented approaches to regional cooperation and PTAs, while focusing on sub-regional PTA suc- cesses, which can be used to enhance the over- all trade capacity and trade-competitiveness of individual member states towards a stronger region as a whole. Most importantly, focusing directly on the strategic, political and regional political issues is key to increasing trade value in the LAC. OPENING LINES