The economic ramifications of COVID-19 will accentuate the technological innovation gap between Latin America and the rest of the world. In a region already suffering from chronic underinvestment in research and development, the strain placed on government budgets by the pandemic-induced economic crisis will push innovation further back down the agenda. The region has compensated for a lack of domestic resources with foreign capital and technology imports from China and the United States. As the US–China relationship becomes more adversarial in the face of COVID, however, Latin America will emerge as a geopolitical battleground whose countries may be forced to choose sides and potentially lose out on capital inflows or technology imports. Navigating this potential storm will involve the region in a search for other options. Public–private partnerships with European Union firms represent one valuable possibility, but Europe and Latin America should first align their innovation agendas.
1. The innovation landscape in Latin America
2. A middle way between China and the US