In a "multiplex" world, in the sense proposed by Professor
Amitav Acharya in one of his two recent books (see "The End of American
World Order", listed in the Recommended Reading section of this Newsletter)
all players, large or small, have options for their international insertion.
They may even have multiple options available (on this regard refer to
2012 issue of this Newsletter). Provided, of course, they have a strategy
for taking advantage of them. This means being clear about what a country
-or an organized region- wants and can obtain. An accurate diagnostic
of the needs and capabilities is required for this purpose. And in a world
immersed in a rapid and continuous process of change, as is the current
one, it involves updating that diagnostic continually. But it also requires
a strong ability to articulate the interests at stake -both internal and
external- and to achieve equilibrium points through smart negotiations.
Today's world is, ultimately, very unfriendly towards willful visions
-whatever their rational, emotional or ideological roots- which exclude
the idea of cooperation with other actors, especially those who share
a regional space (see this Newsletter
March 2014, and July
2013). It is also a world in which no actor has sufficient power to
enforce the international rules, either globally or in their region.
In the above perspective, one can reflect on the latest initiative that
has been raised in terms of Latin American regional integration. It comes
at a time when the multilateral trading system is still unable to offer
interesting negotiating perspectives, beyond the efforts at the WTO Ministerial
Conference in Bali and, most recently, the launch of the negotiating process
aimed at concluding a plurilateral agreement on environmental assets (see
on this regard: http://wto.org/).
Additionally, the negotiations of mega interregional agreements in both
the spaces of the Pacific and the Atlantic are showing less promising
prospects than they did until recently, at least in the short-term or
even in the mid-term, due to geopolitical factors, among others.
But even if the outlook of such perspectives became more optimistic,
the initiative that has arisen within the scope of the Pacific Alliance
is opportune, as it can lead to a renewal of the methods for the enhancement
of the regional space in terms of the productive development of each country
and of their insertion in global economic competition.
This initiative was proposed on June 20 in Punta Mita, Mexico, where
the Ninth Summit of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico)
took place. Among other things, it was agreed "to hold an informative
ministerial meeting on the Pacific Alliance with countries members of
Mercosur." Moreover, "with the same informative spirit",
the Presidents agreed to "conduct a seminar of academics, businessmen,
entrepreneurs and senior officials of the Pacific Alliance, Mercosur and
other countries of the region, including Central America and the Caribbean."
It is possible that the obviously careful wording of the paragraph is
reflecting the need to reconcile different views on the convenience of
promoting such a meeting. It can thus be assumed because there is evidence
that would seem to indicate that different sectors in some countries of
the Alliance still regard both processes as conflicting and possibly incompatible.
This is reflected in academic and business views, and most especially,
in the media.
In this regard, it is noteworthy that the Chancellor of Chile, consulted
at the Summit on the scope of the proposal (according to the newspaper
"La Tercera" Santiago, Chile, June 20, 2014), said that "Chile
made a proposal within the Pacific Alliance for a ministerial meeting
with Mercosur. That proposal was approved. Now, our purpose is not a merger
or union of the two groups. Such hypothetical purpose would be unrealistic,
since between the two schemes there are marked differences in tariffs
and regulations." And he added that "we can explore areas of
agreement on issues of common interest. We can discuss matters of natural
convergence in the short, medium and long term."
If the initiative of the Summit of Punta Mita were to materialize under
the mentioned terms, it would mean opening a window of opportunity for
"convergence in diversity" an idea that has been supported by
Heraldo Muñoz since the beginning of his term as Chancellor of
Chile. In his view, this would be a main focus of the Latin American policy
of his country (see
the last March issue of this Newsletter and the article cited there
by Chancellor Muñoz in the newspaper El País of Madrid,
13 March 2014, on http://elpais.com/).
One approach in this direction had already been made by Ricardo Lagos,
former President of Chile, in a lecture in March at the University of
Sao Paulo. He pointed out the great mistake of conceiving a Latin America
of the Pacific in opposition to another Latin America of the Atlantic.
He claimed that "if the mainstay of world trade is between the Atlantic
and the Pacific and we are between both oceans, then we have a say in
these changing times that are taking place on the planet." (On the
tendency of some sectors to visualize the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur
as antagonistic processes with notorious differences, even ideological
ones, see this Newsletter
from June 2013).
As a result of what was agreed at their summit, the Pacific Alliance
countries have summoned colleagues from Mercosur to an informational meeting
in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia).
It would be wise to take advantage of the window of opportunity that
is thus opening to kick start a process, first of political and technical
dialogue and later of adoption of effective decisions, aimed at defining
a methodology for joint work between countries of Mercosur and of the
Pacific Alliance. It would imply recognizing that, beyond the differences
that may exist -originating from multiple factors, not just the economic,
political or ideological-, the international context calls for concerted
answers of the region as a whole.
There are at least three spheres in which it is possible to imagine converging
actions that can generate mutual benefits for the countries of both schemes.
The first is that of production linkages of regional scope, conceived
in its various forms as instruments to facilitate transnational articulation
in different sectors of production. These are actions that should be carried
out with sectorial approaches and with the active participation of all
the stakeholders involved in the current or potential production linkages
between countries of the region. The second sphere is that of the quality
of physical connectivity and trade facilitation in the main corridors
of regional productive articulation. Finally, the third sphere is related
to some of the main issues on the global agenda and, in particular, to
those associated with the world trading system and climate change.
In these three spheres, both Asian and European countries have garnered
an interesting experience. Perhaps, one of the results of the upcoming
2015 Summit in Brussels between the countries of the European Union and
Latin America, gathered in the CELAC, could be to put the EU-LAC Foundation
(created in the VI bi-regional Summit of Madrid) in good conditions -that
is, to provide sufficient resources- to identify effective modalities
of convergence between different areas of regional integration, in particular
in terms of the articulation of production systems.
A possible agenda of convergence that helps enhance, with multi-speed
and variable geometry actions, the numerous institutional channels linking
the productive systems of the countries of the region -some bilateral
and others of sub regional, South American and Latin American scope- can
draw not only from the experiences of other regions but specifically from
very valuable recent reports, such as that from the CEPAL entitled "Integración
regional. Hacia una estrategia de cadenas de valor inclusivas" (see
It can also draw from the wealth of regulations and instruments provided
by the LAIA -often underutilized despite the variety of instruments adapted
to the current needs that can derive from the Treaty of Montevideo of
1980, moreover taking into account its insertion in the scope of the WTO
through the Enabling Clause-, and from the contributions that can be made
by institutions such as the CAF-Latin American Development Bank due to
their rich experience in productive and infrastructure development in
The most important thing resulting from the initiative of the Summit
of Punta Mita, is then the idea of initiating a dialogue between the countries
of the region interested in building spaces for cooperation that are effective
and responsive to the challenges of current times. To achieve this, it
has to be a dialogue aimed at materializing viable actions that reflect
a reasonable balance of interests and views on the productive development
of the region and that can also attract and excite many people, especially
the young and the impoverished, eager for future horizons that can transcend