Since the 1980s, Latin America has experienced increasing trade liberalisation and regional integration. In terms of rhetoric and, to a greater or lesser extent, practice, countries have replaced a strategy of support for domestic infant industries through tariffs and other protectionist measures, with one of greater openness to the world economy. There is a widespread, but hard to quantify, view that the poor are over-represented among the losers. This leads to a pressing question: how can interested stakeholders influence trade policy-making to make trade work better for the poor? In this Opinion, Alina Rocha Menocal argues that the challenge lies in determining the right balance between necessary autonomy, and dialogue and openness.