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An Interdependent Future

Increasing interdependence will also characterize future relations. Geographic proximity, shared history, and commercial and human ties all bind the United States and its neighbors in complex ways. This interdependence will ensure that what happens in each America will, for good or ill, affect the other. The examples abound. Despite China’s growing regional economic importance, for instance, Latin America still trades far more with the United States, and America exports much more extensively to the region than China does (in 2008, $216 billion versus $67 billion, according to the International Monetary Fund’s Direction of Trade Statistics). Mutual trade dependence will endure for some time. So will America’s energy dependence. The United States depends heavily on Latin America for its energy security, importing more oil from the region than from the Middle East. In turn, regional energy producers depend on U.S. consumers for an important source of revenue. Broader economic interdependence will remain a reality too. To cite a recent example, just as Mexico’s 1995 peso crisis threatened the U.S. economy, many Latin American states could not escape the gravitational pull generated by the 2008 collapse of the U.S. sub-prime mortgage sector: as global recession set in, the aggregate growth for Latin America and the Caribbean fell from 5.8 percent in 2007-one year before the crash-to –1.9 percent in 2009, a year after. Although most regional economies recovered more rapidly than analysts expected, a strong U.S. economy still matters to America’s neighbors.