Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Financial Times' Special Report Says China is now Latin Americas Biggest Trade Partner

A new Financial Times special report underscores, once again, the international nature of the natural resources sector.

In "The New Trade Routes: Latin America" (published April 26, 2011), the FT reports that, "Over the past decade, fast-growing emerging countries, be they in Asia, India, or Africa, have shown a near insatiable demand for the commodities that Latin American has in such abundance, whether Argentine soya, Brazilian iron ore, Chilean copper or Peruvian gold."

China, in particular, has played an enormous role in this development. In 1999, according to the FT, trade between China and Latin America was not even $10 billion. Ten years later, that number had exploded to $130 billion, or nearly 16 times as much. And the growth of trade with the U.S.? Well that's another story entirely with an increase of only about half in the same period.

At Denver Law, we are intimately familiar with the rising importance of Latin America as a geographical powerhouse. Not a day goes by that someone or some group at the law school is not talking about or considering the impressive developments in Latin America, and particularly growth opportunities associated with the extraction of natural resources.

There are all manner of issues to be considered including resource nationalism, why nation states and local governments should ensure that communities where this development is taking place must have a "seat at the table" when the future is discussed, and how businesses in this sector can and must operate in a time when their every move is watched closely by NGOs and financial institutions, among others.

To be sure, the development has considerable challenges associated with it, but it has substantial opportunities as well. We will continue to prioritize recruiting the best and brightest in Latin America to study at Denver Law.

One clear indication of Denver Law's commitment to this continent is the number of LLM students that are recruited from Latin American countries. For example, in the academic year that is just finishing Denver Law's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Graduate Program has hosted LLM students from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, and Peru. To round out our hemispheric coverage, we also have students from Mexico and Canada. And, of course, we have U.S. students who come from coast to coast.

We aspire to provide a broad look at environmental and natural resources issues, and if our success in recruiting a diverse group of students is any indication we are doing just that.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has said the following about Latin America: "If we do things right, this 21st century will be our century."

Editor's note: The picture of Latin America at night from space is from NASA.

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