Pacific Alliance: A Latin American Version of "Open Regionalism" in Practice
This paper will argue that the favorable balance and world appraisal of the eight years of existence of the Pacific Alliance (PA) owes to its pragmatic, progressive, participatory, and consensual approach of regional integration based on "Open Regionalism" (OR). The OR concept of the PA has been renovated and accommodated by new challenges and opportunities that arise from the international economy, taking into consideration the specificities of Latin America. The PA's version of OR emphasizes not only liberalization, trade facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation, as in the conventional OR concept, but also the building of regional capacity to respond to the needs of next-generation trade and investment issues. These issues include firms' participation in GVCs (especially of SMEs), market-driven innovation policies, new forms of trade facilitation, and "quality" infrastructure, among others. The PA has been seeking integration modalities and instruments conducive to enhancing the synergy between the "market-led" and "policy-led integration. The four member states of the PA share a vision of a development model characterized by OR and a conviction that economic liberalization should be complemented by cooperation efforts on many fronts, which would result in enhanced productivity, competitiveness, and social inclusion. Therefore, these countries have sought to set themselves apart from other regional schemes that have been categorized as ideological such as UNASUR, Mercosur, and ALBA. The PA has been trying to streamline trade and investment relations with Mercosur, embarking on joint efforts aimed at creating a more unified and connected market in Latin America.
Research Fellow of Kobe University Research Institute for Economics and Business (RIEB) and Managing Director of the Japan Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (JALAC).