03 July 2017

News Story: Expert says Pacific Alliance to serve as LatAm's tool to expand trade integration with Asia

by Carlos Acat

LIMA, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trade bloc founded by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru in 2011, stands to outperform its regional counterparts and contribute to the continent's closer ties with Asia, Peruvian economist Carlos Aquino has said.

Acquino, an Asia expert and director of the Economic Research Institute at the National University of San Marcos in Lima, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the strength of the Pacific Alliance (AP) lies in the fact that its members not only share a common goal, but also are fundamentally similar.

The AP is holding its 12th meeting in Cali, Colombia, Thursday through Friday.

"Of all the Latin American integration blocs, such as the Community of Andean Nations (CAN) or the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), it's the one that can succeed the most, because it is a homogeneous group of representative democracies with market economies and an interest in Asia," he said.

According to Aquino, the four nations within the AP have already established free trade between each other, and 92 percent of the goods trade are duty free. "The remainder will be liberalized in 15 years at the latest," he added.

The main weakness of the bloc -- which has 52 observer countries, including China -- is that it is fairly new, the expert said, adding that insufficient transport and communication infrastructure has hindered intra-bloc flow of people as well as trade ties with Asia.

"Here, China can help," said Aquino, who pointed out that Chinese investment, the extension of the Belt and Road Initiative into Latin America, as well as increased air routes and e-commerce platforms are all needed to help local companies connect with Asia.

Read the full story at Xinhua

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