Mexico, Colombia, Peru & Chile Look To Integrate Their Economies And Expand Trade With Asia
April 29, 2011 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Four of Latin America’s most pro-market governments signed an agreement Thursday to work toward integrating their economies and deepen their commercial ties with Asia.
The presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru met in Lima to form the Pacific Alliance, which creates a framework for “deep integration” and would eventually allow for an easier movement of goods, people and services. Ecuador and Panama could also possibly join the group.
The group could become the largest trade bloc in Latin America, surpassing the Mercosur common market of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
The total combined value of the economies of the four nations is $872 billion, according to Mexican President Felipe Calderón. In comparison Mercosur’s value is around $543 billion.
“Our four nations, and Panama in the near future, represent 200 million people. Our countries account for 55 percent of Latin American exports,” said Peruvian President Alán García. “This is not a romantic integration, a poetic integration. It is a realistic integration with the world and to the world.”
The agreement is not yet set in stone, as it currently has no provisions and was described as merely “a roadmap” by Peruvian Foreign Minister José Antonio García Belaunde.
“It is important because these are countries with open-market economies that have strong growth and can aggressively enter Asian markets,” said economist Jorge González Izquierdo.
Last year trade between Asian nations and Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru totaled $6 billion, according to Peru’s tax authority Sunat.
Chile, Colombia and Peru formally integrate their stock markets this month as well, creating the second largest market in South America, after Brazil’s Bovespa.
Politically, the conservative group could act as a foil to the leftist Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) group that includes Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua among other nations. Venezuela formally withdrew from the Andean Community of Nations trade pact last week, citing opposition to Peru and Colombia’s free trade policies toward the United States.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Obama continued his push for comprehensive immigration reform Thursday, at a meeting with Hispanic celebrities.
- The Mexican senate Thursday approved changes to the countries competition law, giving regulators greater powers and increasing penalties for companies and individuals found engaging in monopolistic practices.
- Allegations of domestic abuse and sexual misconduct against three senior officers are further undermining the Puerto Rican police’s prestige.
- Cuban poet Fina García Marruz was announced Thursday as the recipient of the 20th Queen Sofia Ibero-American Poetry Prize, an award that also constitutes an act of homage to her colleagues in the Origenes group.
- Cuban dissident Darsi Ferrer was arrested Thursday along with four other people as they were staging a peaceful protest in downtown Havana, according to information provided by the Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission.
- Guatemalan authorities arrested an alleged drug lord wanted by both Guatemala and the United States for aiding the transit of cocaine for a Mexican drug cartel, officials said.
- Former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodríguez was sentenced on Wednesday to five years prison in a bribery scandal at the state telecommunications company.
- Inmates at a jail in Venezuela have taken the prison director and 21 other officials hostage in an effort to draw attention to an alleged tuberculosis outbreak.
- Venezuela’s business and private industry sector is up in arms over efforts by President Hugo Chávez to fast track the country’s economic integration with Mercosur as soon as he wins ratification of a long-delayed membership.
- Left-wing nationalist Ollanta Humala’s lead over right-wing lawmaker Keiko Fujimori has narrowed to less than 4 percentage points, a poll ahead of the June 5 presidential election showed on Thursday.
- French oil major Total Wednesday confirmed it made a new gas discovery in Bolivia, but declined to give further details.
- Tax inspectors in Argentina raided 165 grain exporters with operations in the country, including agribusinesses Cargill and Bunge, to investigate potential tax evasion.
- An Israeli drone purchased for drug enforcement purposes by the Brazilian government has sat on the tarmac for a month for lack of fuel.
- Researchers from France say that GPS readings from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile in February last year have provided “unprecedented” new information about quakes of a magnitude greater than 8.5.
Image: Gobierno Federal @ Flickr.