Since its creation by the Treaty of Asunción in 1991, the regional trade association of MERCOSUR has been plagued by financial crises in its member states. Yet it continues, albeit slowly, to meet its objectives. To its four full members (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay) it has already added Chile and Bolivia as associate members, and continues its negotiations with the Andean Community and even with Mexico.This book by a leading authority on the subject is the first full-length analysis of the viability of MERCOSUR as an effective engine of economic development. Drawing on vast reservoirs of expertise and insight, Professor Guira considers the phenomenon of MERCOSUR in all its real-world and theoretical contexts, from forces inherent in Latin American history to its role in a global trading regime dominated by the WTO, the IMF, the EU, and NAFTA. He provides in-depth commentary on the nexus between the economic crises of member states (particularly Brazil and Argentina) and the multiple and complex linkages that animate MERCOSUR's continuing and distinct identity. He finds that, despite the modest effect to date of MERCOSUR on the economic development of its member states, the laws and institutions that characterise the organisation are now sufficiently established to weather the confidence-building challenge that must be met and overcome if the major Latin American nations are to play a role in global commerce that matches their enormous economic significance.Every scholar, practitioner, official, and policymaker working anywhere in the fields of international trade law or international relations must read this book. In putting together the world trade puzzle, players often find that the MERCOSUR piece is missing or incomplete. With the publication of this book, a major deficiency is fully remedied.