THE FUTURE OF THE PACIFIC ALLIANCE.

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Author: Kendrick Foster
Date: Spring 2020
From: Harvard International Review(Vol. 41, Issue 2)
Publisher: Harvard International Relations Council, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,364 words
Lexile Measure: 1550L

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Donald Trump has strident--and well-known--views on trade. He has fulfilled campaign promises to renegotiate NAFTA and withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which he called at one point "a continuing rape of our country." The administration's trade war against China has made frequent headlines, while Trump seems to be slapping tariffs left and right on products from even American allies.

South of the Rio Grande, however, several Latin American countries have wholeheartedly embraced the concept of free trade. While Mexico, Peru, and Chile helped to pick up the pieces of the TPP to form the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the three countries, along with Colombia, agreed to form a trade bloc known as the Pacific Alliance in 2011. Since then, the group has survived a number of challenges, including presidential changes in all four countries in a region where power transitions often lead to drastic changes in economic and foreign policy. At the Lima Summit in June 2019, the group reaffirmed its commitment to the principles of free trade.

However, protests in Chile and Peru have highlighted economic discontent associated with the end of a long-lasting commodity boom. Meanwhile, Trump's presidency has brought ideas of protectionism to the forefront of the international political stage, in an era where the traditional institutions of liberalism--and especially the global trading system--are under siege. These economic and political crosscurrents could easily make the Pacific Alliance the latest in a string of failed attempts to integrate Latin America--or a beacon of integration and free trade in the Western Hemisphere.

The Pacfic Alliance is likely to continue its position as the latter, thanks to the generally strong political will within the Alliance and its members' views that the Alliance will counter damage done by protectionism elsewhere. However, its rise does not necessarily spell benefits for the United States, as it has become a vehicle for Latin American countries to turn away from the "American pond" in the Caribbean and towards the Pacific.

Reaping the "Early Harvests"

Despite largely being under the radar in the American public debate surrounding trade, the Pacific Alliance has actually achieved a fair modicum of success in its short period of existence. Perhaps this is due to the Pacific Alliance's current small size and pragmatic goals, which have meant that it is taking the route of the tortoise, not the hare, in achieving economic integration. As the Center for Strategic and International Studies described it, this "early harvest" stratagem paid dividends by making incremental progress on nuts-and-bolts issues rather than focusing on grand designs of regional integration that were likely to fail.

Nonetheless, it has proceeded with reforms at a fairly rapid clip. In the year after its founding in April 2011, it held four presidential summits, which served to summarize progress made and articulate clear policy recommendations. In that year, it created the institutions that would drive all future actions, established the baseline for an integrated stock market among the countries, organized joint trade missions to Asian...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A628872556