United States Trade with Latin America

October 10, 1939

Report Outline
Effects of War on Latin American Trade
Political Factors in American Trade Relations
Principal Articles of Inter-American Trade
Financial Barriers to Inter-American Trade
Special Focus

Effects of War on Latin American Trade

United States trade with Latin America, exports and imports combined, amounted to $347,000,000 in 1914. In 1919, the total was $1,128,000,000, From 1910 to 1913, the United States bought about one-third of all exports from Latin American countries, and sold about one-fourth of what those countries bought. In 1917, the United States accounted for more than half of all Latin American trade, both export and import. But soon after the war, European competition became effective again, and by 1928 the United States accounted for little more than one-third of the total. Business men and statesmen throughout the western hemisphere are now anxious to know whether this cycle is about to be repeated.

An Inter-American Consultative Economic and Financial Committee, organized as one result of the recent conference of American foreign ministers at Panama City, will assemble in Washington to begin work not later than November 15. The Wall Street Journal reported on September 22 that Latin American orders were already being diverted from belligerent countries to the United States, and similar reports have been presented to the National Foreign Trade Convention which opened in New York October 9. The Convention is devoting much of its time to the effects of war on Latin American trade. The Foreign Commerce Department of the United States Chamber of Commerce has issued a warning that “the shutting off of South American exports to certain European states may increase the difficulties of some countries in meeting payments for their imports and returns on direct investments,” and the report suggested that the facilities of the Export-Import Bank be expanded.

If war continues for any length of time, Latin American countries must inevitably turn to the United States for many of the manufactured products they have recently been buying in Europe. Some observers hope that this reorientation of Latin American trade may help to cushion the shock of the war to the economies of all the American countries, but others point out that it will create additional problems, political, financial and commercial. Not one of the Latin American countries would be in a position to pay for its present volume of imports if its total exports were drastically reduced, and the United States can scarcely expect a substantial increase in its sales to its southern neighbors unless purchases from them are also increased.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Latin America
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Mar. 2008  The New Latin America
Jul. 21, 2006  Change in Latin America
Mar. 14, 2003  Trouble in South America
Nov. 09, 2001  U.S.- Mexico Relations
Sep. 19, 1997  Mexico's Future
Jul. 19, 1991  Mexico's Emergence
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Dec. 26, 1986  Pinochet's Chile
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May 05, 1978  Central America and the U.S.A.
Sep. 23, 1977  Mexican-U.S. Relations
Jun. 04, 1976  Relations with Latin America
Oct. 21, 1970  Chile's Embattled Democracy
Jun. 24, 1970  Mexico's Election and the Continuing Revolution
Apr. 02, 1969  Economic Nationalism in Latin America
Jul. 19, 1967  Guerrilla Movements in Latin America
Dec. 28, 1966  Militarism in Latin America
Oct. 20, 1965  Common Market for Latin America
Aug. 04, 1965  Smoldering Colombia
Jun. 23, 1965  Inter-American Peacekeeping
Dec. 11, 1963  Progress of the Alianza
Oct. 05, 1962  Arms Aid to Latin America
Dec. 13, 1961  Land and Tax Reform in Latin America
Jul. 26, 1961  Commodity Agreements for Latin America
Jan. 11, 1961  Revolution in the Western Hemisphere
Feb. 10, 1960  Inter-American System
Feb. 10, 1960  Inter-American System
Jan. 13, 1960  Expropriation in Latin America
Jul. 02, 1958  Economic Relations with Latin America
Mar. 02, 1954  Communism in Latin America
Jun. 20, 1952  Political Unrest in Latin America
Sep. 18, 1950  War Aid from Latin America
Oct. 31, 1947  Arming the Americas
Jul. 24, 1946  Inter-American Security
Jan. 02, 1942  Latin America and the War
Jul. 10, 1941  Export Surpluses and Import Needs of South America
Jun. 04, 1941  Economic Defense of Latin America
Jun. 25, 1940  Politics in Mexico
Nov. 01, 1939  Pan American Political Relations
Oct. 10, 1939  United States Trade with Latin America
Apr. 07, 1938  Protection of American Interests in Mexico
Mar. 04, 1936  Peace Machinery in the Americas
Sep. 27, 1933  Trade Relations with Latin America
Oct. 16, 1928  Pan American Arbitration Conference
Jan. 12, 1928  The Sixth Pan American Conference
Jan. 10, 1927  American Policy in Nicaragua
Dec. 27, 1926  Relations Between Mexico and the United States
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean