Pacific Alliance and Mercosur start plans for free trade agreement
July 24, 2018 |
Pacific Alliance wants more integration, less barriers to trade and better connection with Asia-Pacific.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, was Latin America’s virtual capital for a few hours on Tuesday, when Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos, Peru's Martin Vizcarra, Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto, Chile's Sebastian Piñera, Brazil's Michel Temer and Uruguay's Tabaré Vázquez sat in the same room at the Mercosur - Pacific Alliance meeting.
It was the first high-level meeting between the two trade blocs, and the presidents from both regional groups signed a letter of intent to create a regional free trade agreement.
Before the full group got together though, Colombia and Mercosur had already signed a deal aiming at integration in the services sector.
Together, the regional blocks have a population of almost half a billion people and represent 90% of Latin America’s GDP.
Officials from across the globe also joined the summit and some non-related deals were announced, such as Brazil and Singapore opening negotiations towards a free trade agreement (trade between these two was $3.4bn in 2017).
Besides government officials, entrepreneurs interested in what integration within the block can mean for their business held their own panel and were joined by trade ministers from the four nations with free trade dominating the discussions.
The Pacific Alliance also received requests from Ecuador and Korea to become associate members, and a meeting was set for March 2019 in Peru to discuss how to enhance collaboration between the group, its associate members and observers that also include New Zealand, Canada and others.
The four Alliance presidents playing host said they want their integration process to be faster and that the elimination of trade barriers and a more flexible regulatory environment within the Pacific Alliance are needed to place the group in a better position for growth.