The signing of a new trade pact between Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru is a move toward creating one of the biggest trading blocks in the region, said Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
“We are creating the start of a commercial zone that will be the biggest in Latin America,” said Calderon, during a televised speech in Lima on Thursday.
Calderon said the trade accord would generate jobs, investment and new markets. He estimated the joint trade between the four countries could be worth up to $9 billion.
According to Peru’s tax agency, Sunat, trade between the four in 2010 totaled almost $6 billion.
Separately, in an interview with Peruvian newspaper El Comercio published on Thursday, Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos said the deeper economic integration will make all four countries more attractive to investors.
Later Thursday, Calderon and Santos will join Peru’s President Alan Garcia and Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera for the official signing of the trade pact, known as the Pacific Accord.
In his interview, Santos said that together Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico represented a “market bigger than Brazil,” the region’s giant. He also said the four nations had much in common, both politically and economically, and that the union would make all four “more relevant” and “stronger” internationally.
Santos said the Pacific Accord was “in a certain form … a more interesting alternative” to the current Andean trade and development pact known as the Andean Community of Nations, or CAN.
Santos said the CAN pact, which still includes Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia, had been “wounded” by Venezuela’s exit, which began in 2006.
Santos stressed that “all countries that wanted to join” the new Pacific trade pact would be welcome, particularly mentioning Panama and Ecuador.