In Response to: “Peru Summit: Latin American Presidents To Sign Trade Accord”

Dear Editor,

Regarding your April 28, 2011 article, “Peru Summit: Latin American Presidents To Sign Trade Accord”, please permit a few words concerning the recently inked Pacific Alliance.

Approximately a month ago, the presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, signed the Pacific Alliance. The pact was initially conceptualized to be a roadmap to facilitate the increased economic integration of a market that could effectively compete against some of the region’s other major economies and regional trade groups (chiefly Mercosur). The economic agreement set out to further link these intermediate countries through the liberalization of trade in goods, services, capital, and human resources, as well as to facilitate technical and economic cooperation among the four founders.

The Pacific Alliance is now undertaking a strategic maneuver against the increasing economic power of Mercosur members, particularly its leader, Brazil. This southern cone alliance was formed as a more efficient alternative to Mercosur, which has been limited by the slow pace that has hindered the elimination of its trade barriers. Despite the relatively limited trade successes enjoyed by Mercosur countries since its birth in 1991, the pact still represents the dominant economic powers of Latin America. The greatest challenge for the Alliance is to emerge robustly, along with Mercosur, as the largest trading bloc in Latin America and to overcome pre-existing economic impediments among other regional powers.

The Pacific Alliance could become an important regional forum for ventilating the best practices to improve not only trade and investment strategies within the Asian-Pacific region, but also in achieving social and political development goals as well. The pact also envisages a greater opportunity for Colombia to join the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a more competitive economic plan that embraces most of the countries in the Asian-Pacific area.  Colombia is the only Alliance nation that is not already part of APEC. The future accord would most likely mean additional advantages for all members of the Alliance, such as enhanced integration into the Asian market, helping to improve their respective business environments. However, to obtain these benefits, Colombia will have to provide its colleagues with ironclad guarantees; when it comes to upholding strong human and labor rights standards, with which there will be no compromising.

Best Regards,

Roberta Verardi
Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs