Latin America Day 2021 in Hamburg – Ready for change?

In early November, the Association for Latin America (LAV) once more invited leading international experts to its annual Latin America Day. Under the motto “Ready for change?”, these experts and industry professionals discussed what Latin America has to offer with regard to facing global challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. Marcos Ritel, Assistant Professor of International Trade, was moderator of the session on “Trade and value chains before and after the pandemic.” In the following interview, he shares the key outcomes of the session.

Prof. Ritel, in April you stated in an interview with the DVZ (Deutsche Verkehrs-Zeitung) that the pandemic wouldn’t significantly harm global commerce. What was your impression at this year’s Latin America Day?

Ritel: Overall, I was struck by how severely the pandemic has impacted the trade and logistics sector and how recovery is nowhere in sight, even though global trade is doing well.. Businesspeople still have to cope with a great deal of uncertainty and various problems in production, such as labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and bottlenecks in logistics.

What surprised you most?

Ritel: It was amazing to learn about the details of supply chain disruptions from people who work in different areas of the trade and logistics sector. For example, how businesspeople dealt with and are still dealing with labor shortages, the difficulties of implementing new hygienic measures in multicultural environments, and how quickly they have responded to unexpected governmental policies that limited mobility overnight.

What does the future look like?

Ritel: There is tremendous uncertainty and it seems that investment decisions are now geared towards creating input-output networks that are more regional and resilient to external shocks, but still lean and efficient. I also asked the participants if there was a single most valuable lesson that they learned in the period. They all agreed that the pandemic revealed how each individual working in the production chain matters, and how caring for the wellbeing of each worker should be in the best interest of every firm.

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