Export Pioneers in Latin America

The traditional pessimism regarding Latin American economies is rapidly fading, and this high-quality collection of 11 success stories helps explain why. U.S. consumers have grown accustomed to good-value wines from Chile, beautiful flowers from Colombia, nutritious avocados from Mexico, and well-engineered Embraer jets from Brazil. These case studies trace the birth and growth of the dynamic industries that produce these goods, placing special emphasis on the helping hands of governments and on the self-interested cooperation among local firms. As the strong overview by Sabel underscores, governments can assist in basic research and patent protection, offer tax incentives and targeted credits, ensure quality and safety standards, and promote the “country brand.” Rather than destroy one another through competition, local firms can band together to lobby national and foreign governments for favorable treatment. Oddly, the volume understates the vital role often played by international investors in transferring new technologies and offering access to global markets: the Spanish firm Torres was instrumental in modernizing Chilean wineries, a U.S. scientist revolutionized the Colombian flower industry, and Israeli technicians assisted Mexican avocado growers.

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