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LatAm countries voice against trade protectionism

By Liu Xuxia, Wang Xiaobo (People's Daily)    09:47, August 02, 2018

Latin America's two key trade blocs, during the recent-concluded 13th Pacific Alliance Summit in Mexico's Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Vallarta, made a promise to promote free trade. The meeting is believed as great significance to accelerate integration of Latin American countries and propel them to jointly cope with prevailing trade protectionism.

During the first official gathering of the two blocs, members of Pacific Alliance and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) signed a joint declaration and approved an action plan on propelling trade facilitation and personnel exchanges, helping small- and medium-sized companies access global markets and promoting the knowledge economy.

A closer cooperation between the two blocs is a strong response to rising tide of trade protectionism, said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, adding that they will set an example for other countries by continuing their steps. 

President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico, which holds the rotating presidency of the Pacific Alliance, said that with an aim to strengthen the link between the two regional blocs and advance integration among Latin American countries, the meeting is a milestone for both the Pacific Alliance and the Mercosur.

He added that both sides agreed to beef up economic and trade cooperation in areas of common interests and jointly explore a new model of cooperation.

The Pacific Alliance has eliminated the tariffs on 96 percent of commodities traded among its members, and plans a zero tariff for all by 2030, while the Mercosur also sets lower or zero tariffs, and free trade as its target.

A collaboration between the two blocs, against such background, is a key step on their road to Latin American integration.

A total of 13 summits have been held since the Pacific Alliance was established more than seven years ago, and its members have strong desire for accelerated integration and free trade, China’s Ambassador to Mexico Qiu Xiaoqi told People’s Daily.

The participation of heads of the Mercosur members in this summit has sent a positive signal to the integrated development of Latin America, Qiu said.

Trade protectionism has had a long history, and the US President Donald Trump’s choice is especially unacceptable, said Yeidckol Polevnsky Gurwitz, President of the National Regeneration Movement, Mexico’s next ruling party. 

By increasing tariffs on foreign enterprises, the US has actually raised prices of commodities and damaged the interests of consumers, she told People’s Daily, calling it an “obvious mistake”.

By shutting its door to other markets and imposing higher tariffs on imported goods, the US presents a big threat to the Pacific Alliance and will severely hinder the economic development of its member states, stressed Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexican Secretary of Economy.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera warned that if Trump aggravates tariff barriers, he will bring the global tariff system to the 1970s level. 

He suggested the Pacific Alliance speed up integration in wider and deeper sphere and look for international cooperation, especially with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Pacific Alliance, whose original goal is to strengthen Asia-Pacific trade and economic cooperation by using the members’ geographical advantages, is now taking active measures to absorb new allies in and out of the region. 

Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore are preparing for accession to the alliance and South Korea and Ecuador are about to launch negotiations on joining the alliance. The Pacific Alliance has over 50 observer states.

China has paid close attention to the development of the alliance since 2013 when it became an observer state. The country highly values the cooperation with the Pacific Alliance, said Qiu, pledging that China will firmly uphold multilateralism and economic globalization and strongly oppose trade protectionism, unilateralism and hegemonism. 

China’s attitude and position were agreed and appreciated by the representatives attending the summit.

The Chinese market is important for alliance states, especially for Chile, according to Sergio Torretti Costa, President of the Chilean Chamber of Construction. 

Hailing the increasingly stronger trade ties between Chile and China, he hopes his country could export more favored goods to China, enhance two-way investment and achieve win-win results with China. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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