Formerly excluded from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Latin America has been labelled as a natural extension to the original concept that comprehended a range of new infrastructure projects, aiming to improve regional integration and economic development in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
The invitation was made in 2018. Thus far, 19 Latin American countries have formally joined the initiative. In contrast, the largest economies in the region – Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia – have refused to do so, and 9 others choose to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan. If successful, the new regional integration scheme proposed by the BRI may reshape global politics and have implications for Latin America’s regional institutions and economic development. So far, the Chinese engagement in the region has energy investments as a driving force, which may continue under the BRI.
The hypothesis is that while BRI can reinforce Latin America’s position as a periphery, the region may face challenges posed by the initiative according to their national interest, strengthening regional cooperation.