Mexico Gets Backing of Pacific Alliance Partners Over U.S. Talks
(Bloomberg) -- Finance ministers from the Pacific Alliance trade bloc put their full support behind beleaguered partner Mexico ahead of trade talks with the new administration of President Donald Trump.
“This concerns all of us,” Colombia’s Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas told a press conference in Santiago. “The Trump-Mexico theme has consequences beyond bilateral relations.”
Ministers from Chile, Peru and Colombia stressed the bloc’s support of free trade and greater integration, giving their backing to Mexico at what Chile’s Rodrigo Valdes called “challenging times.” President Trump has said he wants to rewrite or scrap the U.S. trade deal with Mexico that he blames for a widening trade deficit with its southern neighbor. The Pacific Alliance is looking for mechanisms to enhance Mexico’s negotiating position, Peru’s Alfredo Thorne said, enabling it to avoid confrontation.
“We wish Mexico all the best and we support it,” Valdes said. “Together we are more. When something happens to one of us, it could happen to all of us.”
Beyond trade talks, Trump has also promised to make Mexico pay for a wall on the U.S. border to stop undocumented immigrants and is considering sending deportees from other countries to Mexico. Mexico opposes both ideas.
The Pacific Alliance ministers also stressed the need to push ahead with trade talks with the Asian region, after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Countries should build on the TPP accord to design new trade accords, they said.
The central theme of the meetings is to develop stronger capital markets within the four-nation bloc and aid the free flow of capital, Thorne said.
The Alliance is looking to create “passports” that would allow funds and brokerages to operate across the region. Valdes said they were also looking into joint Catastrophe bonds, while Cardenas said they wanted to boost infrastructure investment.
Six weeks before today’s meeting, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos proposed strengthening the Pacific Alliance after Trump threatened to adopt more protectionist policies.
“At these times, the way to proceed is reaffirming the internal strength of the alliances that produce well-being for our populations," Santos said in a visit to Peru.
That was a sentiment echoed by his counterpart in Peru, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
"I want to highlight the topic of unity to have strength," Kuczynski said. "We are in this corner of the world, four countries in the Pacific Alliance, that have worked well together."
The Pacific Alliance has stated its goals is the free movement of goods, services and labor. Last year, the bloc eliminated tariffs on 92 percent of goods.
--With assistance from Eric Martin
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.