7 Queries for Mercosur, I: Calls run high to converge with Pacific Alliance?

The Pacific Alliance concluded its 9th summit in Chile on July 1, with calls running high to forge closer ties with Mercosur, or the Southern Common Market.
“Seeking the convergence of the two different mechanisms of integration that share similar goals must be a reality,” said Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

(Soundbite) Rosendo Fraga, Argentine Political Analyst
“Argentina has already announced that it formalized request to join the Pacific Alliance as an observer country like Paraguay, Uruguay, the United States and China. Brazil has not yet given a precise definition in this direction, but it is clear that this is going to happen.”

In May, Mercosur representatives agreed to seek space for developing common initiatives on trade and integration-related matters with the Pacific alliance.
The alliance is composed of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, while Mercosur is a regional trade bloc grouping Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela and Bolivia.

(Soundbite) Carlos Gonzales, Peruvian Economist
“Brazil and Argentina are very interested in being part of the Pacific Alliance, because they know that if they do not come into the club, they will not be able to be more attractive of investment.”

The intention of Brazil and Argentina certainly triggered concerns from other Mercosur members.

(Soundbite) Rosendo Fraga, Argentine Political Analyst
“Uruguay comes naturally more prone to include Brazil and Argentina in the Pacific Alliance. Observers already said that there will soon be a position for Argentina in the alliance. This I think will lead to a shift in South America, a turn in Mercosur and even the possibility of starting some kind of convergence between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance.”

What is behind such strong motivations, especially for Argentina to firmly play the alliance card?

(Soundbite) Rosendo Fraga, Argentine Political Analyst
“I think a Mercosur-Pacific Alliance agreement can emerge as a deal for the common sake of South America. This view must be taken. South America is a region across the Atlantic and the Pacific. Mercosur is basically an Atlantic union and the Pacific Alliance a Pacific one. The integration of the two blocs means much more to the world with a greater relative advantage.”

Together the two blocs account for more than 80 percent of the region’s foreign trade, and more than 90 percent of Latin America’s GDP and flow of foreign direct investment.

(Soundbite) Paul Urria, Chilean Economist
“The Pacific Alliance is an organization of trade integration, without political factors. It has no political agenda and intentions, because the entire political agenda is now rooted in other regional bodies such as UNASUR and CELAC at the level of Central America and the Caribbean.”

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