The objective of this study is to address the diplomatic and economic implications of the participation of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).Design/methodology/approachThe study examines official documents related to the BRI and LAC's signing of the Memorandum of Understanding within the framework of the BRI (MoUs) in order to look into what it means to join the BRI. Additionally, it also introduces the findings of articles in Asian Education and Development Studies' current issue published in 2020.FindingsIn LAC, the BRI does not represent a new policy, but rather the updating and rebranding of a pre-existing one. The BRI primarily consists of an official discursive framework which aims to build a coherent narrative for a wide range of different projects and policies geared toward the improvement of connectivity with China through the development of trade and investments. However, most of these projects were implemented prior to the BRI. Pragmatism lies at the core of this framework which neither has a regulated accession process nor any binding effects. As a result, the signing the MoU represents, foremost, a diplomatic mise-en-scène. The study operates under the belief that BRI membership is not dichotomous; rather, it must be observed in terms of the countries' level of participation. In line with this, the implementation of a generalized BRI policy in LAC countries would not be advisable. Moreover, it must be noted that the BRI's reach to Latin America can be rather problematic due to the fact that the latter was not initially a participant.Originality/valueThe study aims to explore the significance of the BRI beyond the official discourse and discuss the involvement of LAC countries in it. Scholars studying the BRI in other regions have noted that there is not enough information on this policy in the context of LAC.
Asian Education and Development Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 18, 2021
Keywords: Diplomacy; Infrastructure; Belt and road initiative; Latin America and the caribbean; Foreign policy