Ambassador Camilo Reyes Remarks on “The Future of the Pacific Alliance”

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February 20, 2018

Annual Spring Meeting

Outlook on the Americas at the
Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) 

·       Good afternoon. On behalf of the Embassy and the Government of Colombia, I thank the AACCLA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to participate in today’s important discussion.
·       Both organizations are vital to the continued growth of Colombia and our entire region.
·       Last year, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, we launched the U.S.-Colombia Business Council – an official platform between our two countries to advance economic growth and development.
·       The successful U.S.-Mexico Business Council was the model for our new business council, and we appreciate the Chamber’s leadership for bringing the idea to fruition.
·       Today, I am honored to sit alongside my colleagues to talk about the future of the Pacific Alliance, its role in the region and how it can be a catalyst for further economic integration.
·       The Pacific Alliance is an open and innovative platform for expanding economic integration across Latin America and increasing the global competiveness of our four countries and the region.
·       Our countries are recognized globally as the most stable and dynamic democracies in Latin America, with the best prospects for economic growth and attracting foreign direct investment, or FDI, in the near future.
·       In relative terms, the Alliance as a bloc is the 8th largest economy in the world, accounts for 35 percent of global GDP and receives 41 percent of FDI in Latin America.
·       Combined, the Alliance countries comprise an integrated market of 225 million consumers with a GDP of nearly $2.2 trillion.
·       This is not just good for the Alliance countries, but also for the entire region, which benefits from integrated supply chains.
·       The Alliance allows the incorporation of intermediate goods and inputs from any member country in the final good for export, with preferential treatment for any of the member countries. This is creating an expansive market that responds to modern production systems and facilitates regional and global supply chains.
·       Market access is a key component of the Alliance trade protocol.
·       Moving forward, there are many promising opportunities for the Alliance. These include:
·       Ventanilla Única de Comercio Exterior (Single Window of Foreign Trade): With the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, the IDB, the countries developed an interoperability Single Window of Foreign Trade platform, which enables the exchange of phytosanitary certificates virtually. Integrating this further will be key.
·       Customs Cooperation: Another important issue to advance is trade facilitation through increased customs cooperation. The countries decided to start working toward facilitating and increasing trade in the pharmaceutical and food supplements sectors, through the harmonization of technical and sanitary requirements and the elimination of those considered unnecessary.
·       In addition, the Entrepreneurial Capital Fund of the Alliance has been created jointly by the IDB and the IDB Multilateral Investment Fund to facilitate financing and investment in small and medium-sized enterprises and in Alliance projects that contribute to their growth and competitiveness.
·       Equally important is the opportunity to create the Angels Investors Network “AngeLAP” and the Business Accelerator of the Pacific Alliance, “AcelerAP.” Both will seek to connect entrepreneurs with support entities that help strengthen their projects and competitiveness.
·       As for technical barriers to trade, the Alliance is developing a trademark classification tool to develop and implement further protection of intellectual property.
·       With opportunities, come challenges, however.
·       There is an existential one: nations continue looking more inward than outward with respect to trade.
·       However, the Alliance is such a clear example of the benefits of economic integration that we have a compelling case to make for expanding free and fair global trade.
·       A “next step" of the body will be pursuing free trade agreements with nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
·       When Colombia assumed the pro tempore presidency of the Alliance during last year’s Summit in Cali, President Santos underscored the importance of developing a network of innovation agencies.
·       He also remarked that: “We are going to register the creation of a common fund to finance infrastructure, we are going to open the Alliance to associate members so that we can establish different relations with interested observers to affiliate in some way with the four countries that have the most dynamic economies in Latin America.”
·       President Santos also noted why we should work to improve the student and academic mobility platform and strengthen consumer protection.
·       It is clear that our countries, together, can reinforce the Alliance as a strategic platform for economic and commercial integration in our region and across the Pacific.
·       Thank you for your focus on the future of the Alliance and hosting this discussion.