Trade Trends 2021: The Americas

Latin American trade decreased in 2020, though 2021 is going better than expected and could open the door for stronger U.S. ties to the region.


  • Ken Roberts, President, WorldCity
  • Mauricio Mesquita Moreira, Chief Economist and Research Coordinator,
  • Integration and Trade Section, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
  • Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Council of the Americas
  • Steve Liston, Senior Director, Council of the Americas (moderator)

“2021’s gonna look very good from a trade perspective because 2020 was pretty bad,” said Ken Roberts, who participated in a panel co-hosted by Council of the Americas and WorldCity analyzing Latin American trade in 2020 and projections for 2021.

Mainly due to the impact of the coronavirus, 2020 saw a decline in trade in Latin America, especially in the first half of the year. Critically, the commodity sector was particularly affected by a global drop in consumption. However, the panel gave reason for optimism: recovery of trade opportunities has been faster than expected. Roberts cited the potential U.S. stimulus, rising consumption, and a strong stock market, as reasons to be optimistic about 2021.

Panelists also discussed how the pandemic's impact on trade has affected the power of China in the region. In 2020, China actually increased the share of goods it imported from Latin America. China strengthened its trade ties by providing coronavirus aid to partner nations. As Mauricio Mesquita Moreira put it, “Latin America’s pivot to China is far from over. In fact, it has only intensified in the last year.” The panel ended by discussing how the U.S. can fortify its leadership in the region through enhanced trade and free trade agreements.