The aim of the article is to identify the role of Latin America in the global economy between 1990 and 2010. The analysis is based on the indicators that define social and economic potential (regional GNI, GNI per capita, growth rates, share in global production output, etc.). The article examines in detail the structural and regional shifts in Latin America's foreign trading: The share of manufactures in Latin American exports has shrunk sharply since 2000; primary commodities have become more important for the region's trade; China has become a privileged trading partner for Latin America; the region's resilience to the crisis has renewed trade interest from the EU; the USA's share in the region's trade has reduced. The analysis allowed a proposal for decision methods addressing major issues in the region's trade through the diversification of Latin American export and the intensification of intra-regional trade. © University of Warsaw Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies.