The presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Peru signed the Pacific Accord, which seeks profound integration among countries with open economies and the establishment of a common strategy with regard to international markets, especially Asia.
Presidents Felipe Calderón (Mexico), Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), and Alan García (Peru), their host, signed the document at the Palace of Government in Lima.
In order to depict the significance of this bloc, Calderón affirmed that “while Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay) has an annual trade of 543 billion dollars, this Pacific group has 872 billion.”
“It will be an accord that goes beyond the traditional; it’s not only a free trade agreement for goods, but instead we’re going to extend it to services, to investments, also to facilitate the movement of individuals, and of course to seek greater physical integration and greater integration of natural resources, including energy,” Piñera said for his part.
Panama, which sent its minister Rómulo Roux to the ceremony, also signed the accord as an observer. It is expected that other countries may join the accord in the future, along with Panama.
The accord notes the creation of “the Pacific alliance, with a firm commitment to advance progressively toward the objective of achieving the free circulation of goods, services, capital, and individuals.”
It also indicates that customs facilitation and stock-exchange integration will be sought (the Santiago, Lima, and Bogotá stock exchanges are already integrated) and sets a new meeting for December in Mexico, to evaluate progress in the process.
The accord “is open to those countries in the region that share the will to achieve the goal of this alliance,” it adds.
Three of the signatory countries – Mexico, Chile, and Peru – are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) and have made great efforts, so far without success, to have Colombia included in that forum.
The Pacific Accord has as a future objective the integration of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, the last two of which are members of Alba.